No curve was too sharp for them and their bicycle. No puddle was deep enough to stop them. -- Friends by Helme Hein

05 November, 2011

The Library (or, how I sorta began to appreciate the 45% tax rate)

I think you can tell a lot about a how a society cares for its citizens by its libraries.  Do the libraries play a central role in the community?  Do they offer access to not only the culture's past (genealogy, biographies, the greats), but also to its present and future (graphic novels, magazines, technology)? Do they create a comfortable space for people of all ages?  Do they value many forms of media or just dusty old books?

As strangers in strange lands, our access to public libraries is usually limited to one or two English periodicals.  Not because we aren't welcome, but because our language skills limit our ability to fully enjoy the offerings.  But here in Copenhagen the libraries set a stay-at-home-mom's heart aflutter.  These libraries offer more "amenities," if you will, than any other library system I've seen (America, you may have caught up since my last library visit, but honestly, it's been a while).  

 Modern, sleek, and comfortable, the central library near Norreport station was obviously designed with its people in mind.  It's a place you want to be, young or old or somewhere in between, and a place that makes you feel just a bit smarter.

The Danes are considered to be the happiest people in the world and I bet the libraries have something to do with it.  One can happily wile away an afternoon here, and we do, little Felix and I.

When the dark and rain settle in, the library is a terrific play place.  Need to ride a ladybug or add on a giant* abacus?  The library's got your ticket.  The selection of English children's books is pretty good, too.  Dress up clothes, computers, kids music, push cars and homework desks are also available.
*(that is, if your measurements are taken in cm)

 Want to try out your musical skills?  Guitars and keyboards are yours for the asking.

 Racks and racks, almost an entire floor, of current (!) dvds and cds from around the world are yours for the borrowing. There is also a vast online database of on-demand films that require only a library card number to watch.

 You can even test it out before you take it home.

 If the library had been this cool when I was a kid, I might have visited more often.  

 And for when the little one is all worn out after playing and takes a nap in the stroller, there are shelves of newspapers and magazines from around the world in English! 

There is even a cafe with real coffee and cool Danish design chairs.  So hip.
But what I love most is that the library gave our 8 month old babe the opportunity to take his first (assisted) steps today.
Ahhh socialism, I know as an American I'm supposed to think you are vile, but secretly sometimes your cycle routes, free health care, gorgeous parks, free museums and modern libraries make me swoon.  Now, if we could work out the painfully slow administrative processes and the 45% tax rate, we might have a deal. Seriously, I took a number at the immigration office last week.  My number was 109.  They were on 27.  The wait was over 2.5 hours.  The office is only open for 3 hours a day.  I gave up and went to the park.  Still a few kinks to work out.

1 comment:

YourFrenz said...

Nice, I found your blog. Been wondering how Danish life has been. One of Jackies high school friends married a guy from Denmark. His name is Christian Rasmussen, probably met a few of those. Awesome sounding place. Little Woody looks cool. Love to meet him sometime soon.