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Book Trip

 

[Beautiful Library in Korea ③]

Gangseo Miracle Library, Busan

A Memoir of Happy Days When Books, Nature, and People Harmonized

 

2022.04.04

 

The biggest port city of Korea, Busan, which embraces the blue sea, is known to be the best vacation spot for people. Busan is filled with attractions like wide-open sea, time-engraved historical sites, and impressive places you can discover like you find hidden objects from a picture. Those places give you a sense of relief from daily lives and room to rest and recharge. To pick the best way to enjoy peace during a vacation is to read books as if there is nothing one has to do. Is that why Busan has many public libraries and boasts a high usage rate? Out of numerous libraries, Gangseo Miracle Library, which was built as part of the Miracle Library project (Children's library construction project that has been promoted in various regions across the country), recorded the highest utilization rate among public libraries in Busan in 2021. Making the most out of its position as a place that harmonizes with its natural environment, one can see a tall nettle tree from anywhere in the library. It also has spaces where people can feel comfortable as they read books, making the library part of people's lives. Today, I would like to introduce Gangseo Miracle Library, where happy readers and nature that gives people a warm embrace, coexist.

 

 

Book reading place that grows as fast as a tree

 

Virtuous impact tends to create more significant results as a butterfly effect does. A project named Exclamation Mark, Let's Read Books, run by a media outlet in the early 2000s, led Gangseo Miracle Library to be built. The Miracle Library project is still ongoing. Gangseo Miracle Library, which opened in 2018, is the 13th library built from the project, receiving a donation for the design from Book Culture Foundation, which runs the Miracle Library project. The library won 1st place in Busan Construction Awards in 2019 and was under the theme 'tree.' All spaces in Gangseo Miracle Library, a two-floor building, have tree names. For example, the Sprout room is the name of a reference library for preschoolers, while the Dream Tree room is for children. The Dream Fruit room is for young adults, and the Aleumdeuli room is designed for adults.
In the library's backyard, a huge nettle tree is deeply rooted and can be seen from anywhere in the library. The view of the tree was included from the initial design stage. It was intended to help people feel closer to nature as they read books and grow as trees. A park is located on the opposite side of the library, and a wide plain is on the backside of the building. The library, park, and plane create a space that harmonizes well with its natural environment. Children can learn the reading culture and feel the changes in nature as they see changes in flowers, trees, and birds (sometimes even frogs and geckos) with the seasonal changes. This completes the library as a nature-friendly one. Also, Gangseo Miracle Library has a multi-purpose room under the theme Hanok, a traditional Korean house: nursing room, book cafe, and Nulibomgong-gan, as well as club room to let more people use spaces called Haengbog-eoullim, and Saeng-gagdudeulim. The library enables people to create cultures and form communities through books.

 

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1st floor: Reference library for preschoolers

 

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2nd floor: Reference library for children (left), reference library for young adults (right)

 

 

A reading space in daily life

 

Gangseo Miracle Library has continued to make various efforts to settle a culture where the residents use libraries freely. Libraries and books were made friendly to children from a young age through book-reading programs. It led to all the family members visiting the library to read books. Thanks to such efforts, Gangseo Miracle Library had the honor to become a public library with the highest utilization rate in Busan. Its regional characteristic is that it is located in a newly formed area, which tend to have families with young children and show high interest in nurturing children. Visitor-tailored programs also helped the library see more visitors. Compared to other local public libraries, the share of books for children in the library is higher, and it includes a specific corner for child-rearing books. The library also runs the Book Start Movement competition, gives a book pack to winners, and trains parents.
There are also considerations hiding in plain sight made to make the space not difficult but rather comfortable for children. Unlike other libraries, all the spaces in Gangeseo Miracle Library can be accessed with shoes off. Children can feel like they are at home instead of being in a cold and unfriendly space. The library was built to let children spend time reading, walking, running with books to create a space where reading comes naturally. It is a well-known fact that people are highly affected by their surroundings. Therefore, Gangseo Miracle Library provided a space for people to enjoy their daily lives and books, increasing utilization.

 

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Interior/exterior of Gangseo Miracle Library

 

Improved satisfaction level of visitors with user-tailored books

 

Gangseo Miracle Library is operated in a user-friendly manner. There are few foreign visitors yet, so no foreigner-specific programs or services are provided now. However, English books and children's storybooks for multi-cultural families are provided to give a visitor-friendly environment for both domestic and foreign users.
Gangseo Miracle Library set its identity as a library for children, filling 70% of its bookplates with books for children (30% is for young adults and adults). Also, there are various corners in operation to make the library feel comfortable to visitors. New books and user-requested books are located in the 1st-floor reference library's New Books corner. On the 1st-floor corridor, the Recommended Books corner was set to curate books recommended by institutions and librarians as well as award-winning books. The library put a Pop-up Book corner in the pre-schooler reference library so that pop-up books and flap books, which are generally hard to find in general households, can be read freely by its young visitors. There is a car-shaped Big Book bookshelf in the same room to put large books, which is popular among children and their guardians. Child-rearing relevant books are separately collected in a How to Become a Good Parent corner to help find relevant books easily. Public libraries in Busan define specific topics and run corners for relevant books. Other than the corners mentioned above, on the entry of the 1st floor, picture books and book drawings by children are displayed, forming a participatory space for visitors.

 

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Picture-book display (left), Institution-recommended books (right)

 

Big-book bookshelf

 

Since most of Gangseo Miracle library's visitors are children, the library might not be as quiet as other libraries. However, the sound of children is the sound of their dreams growing together as they laugh and read books. Gangseo Miracle Library is nurtured by new miracles, soaking up the nutrients of the library through understanding and consideration for each other. If you are visiting Busan to take some time off from your daily lives and recharge, it might be good to see how Gangseo Miracle Library nurtures positive energy as people rest reading books.

 


A short interview with Gangseo Miracle Library

1. Is there any specific program or corner that might be of use when visiting Gangseo Miracle Library?

Reading books at a bookshelf on a sunny staircase or a book cafe where a large tree and green leaves are seen well or finding interesting big books from a car-shaped bookshelf are some of the features that can only be found at Gangseo Miracle Library. In addition, you can listen to orally narrated fairy tales if it's Saturday. We recommend that you register for various programs and participate.

 

2. Among the books Gangseo Miracle Libray owns, are there any particular books you would like to recommend to foreigners?

I would strongly recommend reading picture books as anyone can understand them, regardless of their age, gender, and language. Many Korean writers won awards in other countries. As the main features of picture books are drawings, not writings, it is easy for people to understand the contents, making it natural for people to learn about Korean culture.

 

3. Please tell us about your pride as a library frequently visited and the services you provide for your users.

We are always grateful for users visiting Gangseo Miracle Library. We feel pride that we fill the needs of people to visit a beautiful and free library. We will make sure not to lose our identity. Please visit us any time. Our doors are always open for you.

 

 

Gangseo Miracle Library, Busan
Homepage: library.bsgangseo.go.kr/gmlib/
Contact: +82-51-970-2317
Address: 80 Myeongji Ocean City 10-ro, Gangseo-gu, Busan

 

 

 

 


Written by Kim Young-Ihm

 

kbbok

Kim Young-Ihm

#Busan#Gangseo Miracle Library#Book Culture Foundation#Book Start Movement
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