The Library of Learning & Culture
Background & ConceptionThe Library located in the City of Churiss had long been recognized as housing one of the finest collections of books, manuscripts, journals, newspapers, magazines, maps, art, and drawings. It also housed several objects and artifacts, many of ancient, even unknown, origin. The growing multicultural nature of the city had increasingly been reflected in its collection over the past two decades or so. Following significant growth in its population, the old capital was completely rebuilt. The new City of Churiss now boasts a modern, clean-looking, architecture that has attracted many visitors, as well as being the pride of its permanent citizens. However, at the planning stage of the rebuild, several notable people requested (some would say demanded) that elements of the old capital be saved for future posterity. It began with Seth Hedra, the Head Librarian noting the particular historical importance of the library building itself, and quickly expanding it to several other buildings across the old city. Whilst sympathetic to the motivation, the Council of Churiss was concerned with future upkeep costs. This matter was resolved when Seth put forward a proposal where all such buildings became an integrated part of the new library, that he would cover all costs of their upkeep and operation, and meet civic regulations of the Council. His only condition was from that point on, he would have sole control and retain any proceeds that were derived from its operations. And so the new Library of Learning & Culture was created from older buildings of note as well as the original library itself. Now it forms one integrated network of buildings that weave through, across, and under, the newly rebuilt city. It is believed to be the only library whose document referencing system is based on street names, buildings, level, rooms, and finally, location (including 'on the stand, next to the lamp in the corner').
Over thirty old buildings are part of the integrated Library - some examples are listed below. Main Library Building: this has been repurposed into the administrative center of the new complex and the home of the Head Librarian.
Pages: a tavern where readers would meet to discuss their favorite novels or swap ideas on studies or research they were undertaking; its cellar has also been preserved as an example of old engineering and as a barrel and wine store.
West School: one of the earliest buildings of the old city believed to be the original school site of the first settlers. This is now an art gallery depicting works from all cultures present in the city.
Council Chamber: this was kept due to its grand architecture but also for its council chamber now repurposed as a teaching theatre.
Market Street: the key center of commerce, this had served the city for decades as a center for trading, shopping, eating, and socializing; it now acts as a focus for the free exchange of books, with several 'mini-libraries', as part of a city-wide literacy program.
The Tunnels: the new city required deep new foundations and a new sewer system - many old sewer tunnels were cleaned and restructured into an underground network for travel between the new library buildings, as well as for secure storage of its most valuable and rare artifacts.
The Home of Hedua: the house where the city's oldest poet lived and created her most famous works for over sixty years prior to her mysterious disappearance; this is now a museum in her honor and can be booked for overnight stays - but beware it is said to be haunted!
Sasha's Tower: Sasha is a mage and alchemist who decided to leave Churiss, not wishing to live in a modern city; as an old friend of Seth she donated her tower to the new library; it is the most remote building of the complex, being on the outskirts of the city, and is accessed overland or by a long walk through a lit subway; it is now filled with objects and information concerning the celestial bodies surrounding the world, with an observatory at its apex.
The Pen & Ink: this is one of the smallest buildings in the new complex; it is the site of the old Stationers that sold paper, inks and various writing implements to school children and adult academics alike - in fact, Silas, the venerable shopkeeper of almost a hundred years, continues as ever in the old shop that is his life; Seth would have it no other way.
Purpose / Function
The mission of the new Library is set out in its prospectus to be:
- a place where all can come to learn and learn how to learn
- where curiosity is valued more than current knowledge
- for everyone
The vision of Seth was to fully integrate all the buildings in the new library complex. The largest part of construction work was to create air bridges between the upper floors of buildings wherever possible, and where not, to bore subways. Many of the buildings were previous homes and these were cleaned, repaired, and refurbished to house books, reading rooms, overnight rooms, and facilities for tourists and citizens, whilst maintaining the identity and look of their original purpose. In the center a park was constructed to reflect the new architecture of the rebuilt city - this space acts as a symbol of old meeting new and consists of planted areas, low white stone walls as places to sit, white stone statues, and fountains. The planting displays a variety of vivid colors all year round and is a truly uplifting place for those in need of it. The roof of Sasha's Tower was removed as part of conversion into an observatory for those wishing to gaze upon and learn about the stories and legends of the sky.
The structures have been kept in keeping with the architecture of the old city. This predominantly consists of rough grey stone walls and grey-brown slated rooftops. Houses tended to be narrow and tall with high ceilings and covered staircases against the outside wall. Those of the wealthy had sharp pitched conical towers, often with a surround balcony accessed from the roof-space - from here, they could look across the whole city and beyond. This is in sharp contrast to the clean, pure white stone blocks of the new city. In full summer, the light can be blinding. It is asserted as a feature by the designing architects; although many chuckle at this, knowing it as an oversight of the design.
The Library of Churiss
Characters in Location