By connecting three old row houses, it became a ‘library village’.

‘Grey, yellow, white.’

If you go to Gusan-dong Library Village in Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul, you will see a unique landscape with buildings of different shapes and colors. Gusan-dong Library Village is a place where three row houses and an alley built at different times have been renovated into one space.

On the 31st of last month, the reporter opened the door to Library Village and went inside. The first place that caught my eye was the library village lobby, which was originally an alley and had a roof over it. In the lobby, the old structure of each house and the newly built building were well harmonized. A three-story balcony made of red brick, white walls with dozens of windows, and a red phone booth. Kim Young-mi, head of the cultural policy team at Gusan-dong Library Village, said, “This design was possible because the exterior walls of past multi-family houses were preserved and several row houses were remodeled.”

● ‘Open Library’ with 3 houses and an alley

Gusan-dong Library Village is a space welfare facility created with the concept of ‘your old house becomes a library.’ The name was named ‘Library Village’ rather than ‘Village Library’. The budget was reduced by utilizing existing buildings, and it received favorable reviews as a project that could preserve memories.

The village’s past is preserved throughout the library. The existing alley was decorated like a large library with bookshelves lined up. The 55 rooms have been reborn as spaces large and small where citizens can comfortably read. Unlike regular reading rooms that are divided by partitions and equipped with desks and chairs, benches and table-type chairs are placed here and there. A Library Village official said, “Sometimes when we receive complaints requesting to expand the reading room, the staff explains, ‘Think of it as a future library.’”

The building structure is also unique. A completely unexpected staircase appears in the middle of the road, and as you climb the stairs, the wall material suddenly changes from red brick to gray granite. Jang Dong-geun (57), who comes to the library every day to study for firefighting certification, said, “Other libraries have a stiff atmosphere, but this one is comfortable and I like that each floor has its own unique characteristics.”

● About 2,000 people visit per day, and lectures and performances are also active.

There were 11 elementary, middle, and high schools in Gusan-dong, Eunpyeong-gu, but there were no libraries or cultural facilities that local residents could use. Accordingly, in May 2006, about 2,000 residents held a petition to create a library. Eunpyeong-gu purchased the land in 2008, but it was postponed due to budget issues. After being selected for the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s resident participatory budgeting project in 2012, the project was promoted in earnest and opened in November 2015. Residents who formed the ‘Eunpyeong Library Village Social Cooperative’ are 스포츠토토operating the library through private trust.

Currently, Gusan-dong Library Village has become the center of village culture, with an average of 2,000 people visiting it every day. Last year, 83,739 people borrowed 181,265 books from the library, which has over 80,000 books. A variety of programs, including humanities and travel lectures and orchestra performances, are also held. 17 clubs, including youth reading and mystery novels, are also actively operated. We are also running a program to read books to underprivileged students in conjunction with nearby special schools.

● Serves as a local archive holding 10,000 comic books
The ‘Cartoon Resource Room’ on the 4th floor, which is equipped with over 10,000 comic books, is also the pride of Gusan-dong Library Village. There is also a ‘Triple Webtoon Class’ where you can draw your own cartoon with a cartoonist. Ms. Park So-yul (12) said, “She often stops by the library to do homework with her friends, and the cartoon archives room is also a regular place to visit.” Lee Chae-eun (9) smiled and said, “I come to the library every day with my child care teacher because there are many interesting books and the atmosphere is comfortable.” The ‘Village Data Room’ on the 4th floor houses 1,900 publications containing the history of Eunpyeong. You can see books written by the early local press and residents, as well as actual household account books.

Gusan-dong Library Village, which was reborn as a community of residents from old row houses, won the Korea Space Welfare Grand Prize in 2019. Director Lee Soon-im said, “In the past, we used to call friends home, but now the library functions as a ‘public living room’ where we can read books and meet friends. We will continue to do our best to be loved by residents as an open space.”

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