This year’s best new public library is in Spain
The Biblioteca Gabriel García Márquez in Barcelona is an architectural and functional marvel, resembling a stack of open books and serving as a central community hub for 240,000 residents. Today, it was named Public Library of the Year 2023 at the 88th IFLA World Library and Information Conference, which is currently taking place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
The Biblioteca Gabriel García Márquez in Barcelona stands out for its exceptional features and the contribution it has made to the local community. Named after the renowned Nobel Prize laureate in literature, Gabriel García Márquez, the library embodies the spirit of interaction with its surroundings and local culture.
In collaboration with Danish software company Systematic, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) annually bestows the Public Library of the Year award together with USD 5,000 in prize money to the winning entry. This year, the competition featured 16 libraries from 11 different countries. The other finalists were Parramatta Library at PHIVE in Australia, Shanghai Library East in China and Janez Vajkard Valvasor library in Slovenia.
“This recognition is not only for biblioteca Gabriel Garcia Marquez It’s for the entire team of Barcelona libraries, the library team, the architects, and municipality of Barcelona. It’s a gift for the citizens. The democratic and social rights and values are key to our library. This recognition is an award for the Barcelona people,” said Ferran Burguillos, managing director of Barcelona Libraries City Network and Neus Castellano, library director.
Jakob Guillois Lærkes, Chairman of the Jury, says:
“I’m always in awe of the high quality, impressive solutions and innovative features of the new libraries which are entered each year for the Public Library of the Year award. This year’s field was no less impressive. The four nominated libraries all stand out and are each a true gift to their local community. The Biblioteca Gabriel García Márquez is a great example of how a library can serve as a crucial link between people and communities. The entire building process, including the selection of materials, has been characterised by rigorous sustainable choices and bold and ambitious solutions. The Biblioteca Gabriel García Márquez stands as a true role model for future library buildings in years to come.”
Designed by Suma Arquitectura, the Biblioteca Gabriel García Márquez resembles a stack of open books with folded pages. Its solid sculptural shape is accentuated by a dense structure of wooden panels that provide unique lighting while defining the library’s character. The floor plan is intelligently designed, creating distinct spaces that cater to different needs and activities. From the showcase agora and ideas’ forum on the ground floor to the reading house on the upper floor, every area is carefully shaped to provide a warm and welcoming environment for visitors.
The main focus of the library is on learning and social connection. To this end, it offers workshops on creativity, languages and digital literacy. With its unique facilities that include an auditorium, radio studio, cooking workshop and sensory space for children and young people, the library caters to a wide range of interests and experiences.
In line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and IFLA’s Global Vision, the Biblioteca Gabriel García Márquez embodies a holistic approach to sustainability, community engagement and knowledge empowerment. Through its design, programming and commitment to environmental and social responsibility, it serves as a beacon of inspiration for libraries around the world.