Every time I walk by a library in San Francisco, I can’t help but stop and look at them for a long second. Perhaps I was admiring some of the classical facades, coffered huge ceiling and other design features. But the more I think about it, I realize I am actually fascinated by the fact the each library is an individual “library building” sitting on the street.
As a person growing up in Hong Kong, it is not common seeing a single “library building”. Most libraries are put inside a city hall complex or some of the so-called municipal buildings. These complexes also house offices for city workers, a wet market for fresh food, a dry goods market and a food court. The library is usually placed on the top floor of the building. I always have to take the elevator to get to it. As a result, I was not used to seeing a library building on the street and of course most Hong Kong people don’t have an idea of how a library building looks like.
Personally, I prefer having libraries as individual buildings. It is very strange that you need to go through a wet market and food court to get a “house of knowledge”. That is why I used associate libraries with the smell of dried seafood. The Confucius has this old saying that “halls for study should be placed as far away from the kitchens and slaughter houses where killing of animals take place”. I totally agree with that.
As a strong advocate for great and inspiring civic works, I believe that these nicely done libraries in San Francisco beautify and define each neighborhood. They create dignified and memorable places both inside and outside the libraries for every neighbor. It is a simpler world when you don’t stir-fry buildings together.
1833 page st., san francisco – 3:25pm, jan 10, 2013