Review: Binhai Library


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Have you been to the Tianjin Binhai Library



I heard about Tianjin library when I was preparing to come to China. The beautiful photos and articles in well-known international media outlets triggered my desire to visit the place. One of my friends even told me she thought the place could not be real. 

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Reality and virtual representation seem to contradict each other sometimes. If you expect to see millions of books on the shelves of the library and get lost in the countless stories of different authors, then my friend, I have to tell you to lower your expectations.

The Tianjin Binhai New Area Library was opened in October of 2017. The 33,700 square-meter building took three years to complete. The library resembles a three-dimensional eye from the outside and is locally referred to as "The Eye of Binhai". The library’s lecture halls can seat up to 200 people. The library has 1500 seats in its reading area and its collection is expected to reach 1,350,000 books. As of now, the shelves are designed with aluminum book covers that mimic books, so there are almost NO real books on the shelves.


This futuristic library challenges the traditional role of libraries. In the era of electronic books and audiobooks the concept of a library is undergoing certain changes. In Tianjin, where technological developments have entered diverse spheres of life, they are challenging the Library concept in a bold fashion. 



Tianjin Library is a tourist destination. We went there on a Monday morning and had to wait in line for 10 minutes as there was a queue of about 100 people waiting at the security control. 


The Library is located in the Binhai Cultural Center, a mall with restaurants, entertainment, shopping, and language training centers. You can also visit the Binhai Modern City and Industrial Discovery Museum,  Binhai Modern Art Museum and the Binhai Performing Arts Center (note: the last two are closed on Mondays). The Binhai Modern City and Industrial Discovery Museum gave different perspectives on the future of growth and development in Tianjin. The Government is putting a lot of effort into reviving the Binhai area and the library along with the museums and art centers. These are ways to attract the attention of  tourists and bring more money to the district.



Review and images by Jessie



So when you visit the library do not expect to see millions of books resting on the shelves of the beautifully designed library. Instead, take your favourite book with you, find a comfortable spot and try to enjoy the architectural feast that this luminous library is offering you.



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