Back in 2013, UNESCO named Bangkok as the World Book Capital. To capitalise on this prestigious award, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration introduced nine initiatives to encourage wider reading throughout the city, including the creation of the Bangkok City Library on Ratchadamnoen Road, which officially opened on 28 April 2017.
This huge public library offers a learning center for Bangkok’s residents and promote the capital as a true “learning city”.
Making your way around this sprawling interior certainly takes time. Designed within a beautiful art deco building, the library spans three light-filled floors with 4,880-sqms of reading space – making it the largest public library in the city.
Along with quiet nooks and open reading spaces, there are desk areas for studying, a Kids’ Room and small activity area, and a computer corner with free Wi-Fi.
Dedicated areas include sections on Thai culture, Asian literature, world literature, international children’s literature and science reference books. There’s also a section with Braille and audio books, and the library computers contain over 1,000 e-books.
Navigating your way around
The first level of the library is filled with new books, magazines, newspapers, a coffee shop, tourist booth and a 30-seat theater.
Head up to the mezzanine to find a range of bilingual books and media especially for the kids. This family-friendly area also has quiet reading corners, making it ideal for parents who want to enjoy a spot of distraction-free story time with little ones.
The second floor houses books a small selection of foreign language book, and also features a study room and a separate multi-functional event space.
On the top floor, there’s a series of books that document the history of the Thai royal family along with a range of rare publications that have been donated by overseas embassies.
Looking to the future
While the shelves are packed with more than 41,000 books, there’s room for over 100,000 volumes – expected to come via donations from members of the general public and private companies.
Moving forward, Thai officials aim to create new activities to encourage Bangkok’s residents to make use of an undeniably impressive facility – with plenty of opportunities for growth.
Initially there were plans to keep the library open 24-7, but concerns from City Hall over security mean opening hours will now be 8am to 9pm from Tuesdays to Saturdays and 9am to 8pm on Sundays; this is subject to change so please check in advance before you visit.
Visitors don’t need to pay an entry fee, but if wish to borrow books, you’ll need to pay a small yearly membership fee of 50 baht (10 baht membership and 40 baht book insurance fees) per adult and 25 baht (5 baht membership and 20 baht book insurance fees) per child. Bring a copy of your Thai ID, house registration or passport to apply for membership.
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Image credit: Bangkok City Library