Sunday, December 21, 2008

Speaking in Croatia (Part 6) - Rijeka City public library

[From Part 5]

After a 2-hour bus ride through winding hills and a picturesque country side, I arrived from Pula to Rijeka city around noon. My Croatian colleague from IFLA, Verena T., received me at the bus station. It was very kind of her to make time to show me her city, before we'd to take our next bus to Zagreb.

It was a Sunday and all shops were closed (they are predominantly Catholic) , including public libraries (which is also why you won't see any library users in the photos that follow).

Rijeka City library Rijeka City library

Here's an interesting fact about Rijeka (pronounced "Ree-Yay-Kah") public library: their various departments (i.e. Adult, Children) are sited in buildings located at different parts of the city.

This is the building that housed the public library's Adult section department (the Adult department is on the ground floor; the floors above were the city departmental offices houses the library office and other government/ cultural departments and institutions, e.g. Theatre).
Rijeka City library

About 5 minutes walk away, at the radio station building, there's a "reading room" that has mostly magazines and light reading materials on the ground floor (as the name implies, it functions more of a "browsing area").
Rijeka City library Rijeka City library Rijeka City library

[NOTE: There are pros and cons to this arrangement of having separate locations, but probably more cons. Visits to public libraries are often a family affair, with parents going along with their kids. Having separate sections may mean a more distinctive focus for that particular age group but it means there's fewer opportunities for different age groups to mingle and exposure to relevant materials.

I was told there were plans to construct a larger building to house all the departments together, but possibly put on hold because of the global economic downturn. Personally, I feel that times like this, city infrastructure projects should continue. It's a way to inject public monies back to the economy and also take advantage of the lower construction costs. Moreover, public goods and services like public libraries would be even more relevant and in demand during leaner times.]

Another 5 minutes walk and I was brought to their Children's library (on the ground floor, building on left Correction: the library is out of the picture. It was on my left, on the ground floor, as I took this shot. The building on the left in the picture is a hotel):
Rijeka city library

The sign above the library entrance.
Rijeka City library

Rijeka city library Rijeka City library Rijeka City library Rijeka City library

This is the room with baby books, and some toys for children. The toys are not for loan though.
Rijeka City library Rijeka City library Rijeka City library Rijeka City library

This toy is supposed to help very young children learn how to tie their shoelaces!
Rijeka City library

They have a row of picture books specially on "Problems and Issues" (it could mean something more than that in Croatian, I'm not sure Verena says it's more like "picture books with themes about typical problems of growing up").
Rijeka City library

For example, how to deal with the habit of sucking thumbs, relationship with parents... expressed in a way that Children would understand. And perhaps for parents to explain to their children.
Rijeka City library

This picture book is quite unique. The top part tells the story from the perspective of a young girl, while the bottom is the perspective of the father!
Rijeka City library

This is where their item barcode is placed:
Rijeka City library

Outside the Baby Books room is the Non-fiction book collection for parents, caregivers and teachers:
Rijeka City library

And also the teens corner:
Rijeka City library

I was attracted to this display board put up by their teen users.
Rijeka City library Rijeka City library Rijeka City library Rijeka City library

I asked if the librarians had to actively recruit teens to help maintain the space. And I was extremely impressed when I learned some of their teens proactively asked if they could start a bookclub, because they saw something similar at another library.
Rijeka city library

This was made by a teen volunteer, for one of their Children's programme:
Rijeka city library

Looking at the teens display area, it reminded me of the importance of having some sort of area to showcase the activities for teens. Better yet, have the teens take charge of the display area.

Doesn't need to be fancy. It's the intent that counts -- both from the library and from the teens, I feel.

I observed that their libraries tend to be smaller compared to the ones in Singapore.

But this one is full of love.

It's apparent in the coziness of the place.

[Next: Part 7 - public libraries in Zagreb City]


  1. Hi hi!!!
    I'm a Singaporean living in Croatia, Rijeka. Chanced upon your blog from Google search results.

    Glad you liked my town! :)

    I've never been inside a Croatian library myself because all the books are in Croatian (I'm still struggling with the language) so I only buy my English books in bookstore.

    Thanks for showing a part of my town that I didn't know.

    Have a good 2009 and happy blogging!

  2. Hey SheR., so interesting! A Singaporean living in Croatia. If you need me to refer you to a Rijeka librarian to tell you more about the library, let me know :)

  3. Dear SheR!
    What a surprise! :)
    One Singaporean schould come to my city to discover me the other who allready lives here! :)
    And what a mistake - not to open the doors of the Rijeka City Library and discover english books inside! :) - yes, we have them! Please, come and explore our english book colection! :) And borough some croatian books for easy reading (ask librarians to recomand you), it will helps you in learning language!).
    And when you find some time - please come to the Children's Department (near by hotel Bonavia) and ask for me - I would really like to show you my library in vivo! :)


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