Utrecht Library – a rich history
It all started in 1892 with “the man with the bakkenbaarden [sideburns]”, Hendrik Adriaan van Beuningen. As a wealthy private individual, he founded the first public library in the Netherlands: the Openbare Leeszaal [Public Reading Room] located at Loeff Berchmakerstraat in Utrecht.
The lending of books only started in 1909. One book at a time, and only to members. In 1912, the public reading room moved to a specially-designed building on Voetiusstraat in Utrecht.
Years later – in 1982 – the Library became a municipal institution. This policy was partially reversed in 2013. Now located at the Neude in Utrecht, the library is once again a foundation.
Old post office
There is a lot to tell about the former building of the Utrecht Main Post Office – the place where the Library is now housed. For example, in 1917, a decision was made to build a new Main Post Office on the Neude. Architect Joseph Crouwel started with the design, construction started in 1920 and lasted until 1924. In the style of the Amsterdam School, the ideas was to create a “Gesamtkunstwerk”. The art and furniture needed to match. Crouwel designed a lot himself. And various artists were engaged for the sculptures, windows and other eye-catchers.
The Hoofdpostkantoor remained in service as a post office building until the end of October 2011; it then closed its doors for the last time.
Library Neude – 125 years of library
After the closure of the post office, an investigation was carried out in 2014 to see whether the Central Library could be located in the building. Plans and drawings were required to make, build, renovate, move and furnish the library to fit the 21st century perfectly. As a co-creator of Interior Group, Keijsers Interiors was able to build and install a lot of custom-made furniture and contribute to “this living room of the city”. For example, the reading table, sofas, information desks, kitchen areas and workplaces are typically custom-made pieces where details make the absolute difference. We also worked with acoustic wall panels to contribute to the creation of a “warm” environment.
The Neude Library opened its doors as the living room of the city on 13 March 2020. For and with the city, 125 years of library. From a public reading room from where nothing was lent, to a public library with thousands of books for everyone.