Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Black Diamond

After yesterdays gray it's now time for something black. Nicknamed The Black Diamond this building is an annex of the Danish Royal Library (should have been named the National Library, I sincerely doubt that the Queen use this one as her private library). When the Royal Library began to run out of space in the mid 1990's this building was designed as an annex to the main building from 1906. It stood ready in 1999 and was a cube of black marble and glass with a view to the harbour with three bridges to connect it to the old building. The building houses a concert hall and a café beside the library, and is used for exhibitions as well.

The Royal Library need this extra space and the four other locations to store everything published in Denmark since the 17th Century and much from before that. It's actually the law in Denmark, that when you print a book, a magazine or a newspaper, a copy should be sent to this library. Today even web pages in Danish are stored. A total of 725.000 books do take up some space. And this is not just a closed library for the selected few; anyone over the age of 18 can get a library card, but of course access is restricted for the oldest books and prints.

The old main building

This free access has its drawbacks, as a number of the rare books have been stolen over time and sold to collectors. The biggest of these thefts involved 1.600 books with a value of $50 million that disappeared between 1968 and 1978. The theft was solved in 2003 after the thief, a department head at the library, died and his family tried to sell off the remaining books. About 1.500 of the books was recovered and the family was sentenced to 18 months to 3 years of prison.