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Public library in Mechelen named among best in world

Credit: Het Predikheren library

The Predikheren library in Mechelen, Flanders, just missed out on being named the best new public library in the world in this year’s Public Library of the Year award.

Located in a redeveloped Baroque monastery ruin, the library has been included in the top five of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) listing.

“Out of no fewer than 32 libraries from around the world, Predikheren was selected along with libraries from Norway, Australia, the Netherlands, and China,” a statement on the library’s website read.

The award is presented to any library in the world which has excelled at combining open and functional architecture with creative IT solutions while simultaneously involving digital technologies and local culture.

For this year’s congress, the theme was ‘Working together for the future’. What made Predikheren’s application stand out was its rich history that was rendered visible by the restoration, as well as it’s intention to shape the future with involvement from Mechelen locals.

Credit: Het Predikheren library

The Predikheren was praised by the jury for combining sustainable materials, technology, and digitisation with its unique architecture, as well as for its efforts to be a hub and valuable resource for locals.

The most famous library in Belgium is probably the library of the university in Leuven (KU Leuven). Few libraries in the world have experienced such a dramatic history as this library. It was destroyed in both world wars and rebuilt brick by brick.

This year’s winner, the Deichman Bjørvika, is located on Oslo’s harbourfront between the city’s Central Station and Oslo Opera House and was recognised for its automatic book-sorting system.

“This award is the ultimate proof that the city of Oslo has given its citizens a world-class main library. Deichman Bjørvika is the crowning achievement of a comprehensive and sustained effort to develop Oslo’s libraries,” Knut Skansen, library director at Deichman Bjørvika, said.

Watch the video the Predikheren library made for the competition below.