A Cellar Turned Library: Concept Libraries Help Restore Romanian Community Identity
Community and Regional libraries in Transylvania are redefining modernization by promoting “concept libraries” to create comfortable spaces for patrons. The ASTRA library in Marpod is one example. The library is using unique designs to reinvent modern libraries and showcase local history.
What is a “concept library?"
The Marpod ASTRA Library seeks to integrate the traditional notion of a public library with design concepts of multifunctional spaces by using a common theme. In the case of the Marpod Library, local librarian Florinela Anca Vasilescu was inspired by the town’s German and Saxon history and by the fact that the library used to be the Town Hall’s old cellar. The librarian suggested using the pantries as bookcases and the remaining empty jars to illustrate historic moments.
The inauguration of the library was the result of the common efforts of the entire Marpod community. The local government donated books and construction materials, while local residents donated furniture. Local artists and volunteers worked for nine months to develop the ambiance of the space by restoring old pieces of furniture and brick walls. The volunteers also painted the outside walls and created stamps to showcase Marpod’s history.
Local residents donate more than 3,000 volumes books to the library
After the renovation of the library to place, the library staff launched the campaign “Fairy Tales Books for the Fairy Tale Land” last summer. The campaign was successful and drew citizens and local businesses to donate over 3,000 books including children’s stories, history books, mandatory school literature, and international literature. Monetary donations received during the campaign were used to purchase additional books for library.
Library as gatekeepers of history
The Marpod Library is an example of how libraries are helping communities to remain in touch with their heritage and history through creative approaches. “We started out with the intention of reopening as many public libraries as possible to encourage citizens to explore some of our community history though informal education and self-education. Consequently, our desire to reinvent the Marpod library and draw people back to culture, which has been successful thanks to the support of local public authorities,” explains Florinela Anca Vasilescu, ASTRA Programme Coordinator.
Biblionet is a five-year program that helps Romanian libraries better serve their communities through training and technology.