18:03: I’m going home

Update on my own studies: I was wildly unproductive. No matter, watching all the people around me focus on their work gave me a vicarious feeling of satisfaction. And after having a half-dozen cappuccinos brought to me by James the butler, I can tell you that I’m feeling pretty good. So long everybody, enjoy this selfie of me and my new friend James.

Selfie Ivar and james new library foto Laanen
James and I.

17:48: Open late

Important information: On weekdays, the library is open from 8:00 to midnight. On weekends its a bit shorter, staying open from 10:00 to 21:00.

“We are open longer than almost every university in the Netherlands,” library director Matthijs van Otegem told EM. “I think that’s incredibly important. We could decide to finish the day off around 5, but what good would that do for the students?”

van Otegem new library foto Muus
Library director Matthijs van Otegem believes the library should open early and close late.

17:30: The silent zone

The newly renovated library is subdivided into two sections: A silent zone and a non-silent zone. Third year student Tommie Hooft van Huysduynen needs his silence when he works, and he’s quite pleased with how is fellow students respect the quietness.

“It’s not like in the pavilion where you feel bad just for blinking. I find the level of noise is just pleasant enough for me to be able hear my own harrowing thoughts about strategic management.”

Silent zone new library foto Muus
The silent section of the library.

16:33: “We’re actually a digital library”

Designing a university library in the age of digitization means paying close attention to how the physical space is utilized. Earlier today, I talked to library director Matthijs van Otegem about the challenging process of designing a library that’s both functional in the physical world as well as the online world.

“We are actually a digital library. We have a hundred times more downloads of our documents than we physically loan out. And you can see this in the way we designed the library. We could fill the library with books, but if no one is using them, we may as well invest in making quality study spaces. Of course, you still need to feel as if you are in a library, and that’s why I love that we have this beautiful array of books right in the middle of the library.”

new library 3 foto Muus
A fine collection both Dutch and English can be found in the center of the library.

16:06: RTV Rijnmond is on the scene

It seems I have some journalistic competition on hand as a reporter from local broadcast station RTV-Rijnmond has arrived. Here he is doing a live radio interview with library director Matthijs van Otegem. Let’s hope his interviewing skills are on par with mine.

RTV rijnmond library opening foto Laanen
A reporter from RTV-Rijnmond interviews the library director.

15:57 A love letter from Eefje

The quest for study places carried columnist Eefje to the weirdest places on campus. Two months ago, she wrote a letter to the library. And the library wrote back.

15:31: Hard work pays off

For the people who have worked so long on the renovation of this building, today was the moment of truth: How would students receive the new library? So far, the reactions have been nearly entirely positive.

“I’ve been hearing people say things like ‘oh, look how beautiful it’s become’ or ‘look how light it is in here’, and my friends behind the information desk have told me that they’ve only heard positive things, ” said Ineke van der Kramer, one of the advisors for the new library. “For us, that’s a reward for years of hard work. We’ve also heard that there are things we can improve on, like that its quite warm in here. And we’re happy to hear those things too. Now that we know, we can start working on getting it fixed as soon as possible.”

15:25 This is what the new library looks like

2:35: The Reading Terrace

The round platform that sits in the middle of the water lily-filled pond has been named the Reading Terrace, but students have found another purpose for it: Having a cigarette break. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to put down some ashtrays or trash bins before all the butts end up in the water.

Reading Terrace new library Foto Laanen
Anabel Arndt chilling out on the Reading Terrace.

2:17 Remember all those ceramic tiles?

In February, the Erasmus Gallery was turned into a temporary art studio where students and staff painted ceramic tiles in a certain blue-green pattern designed by artist Marijn van Kreij. After ten days, around a thousand tiles were made. Now all those tiles form a mural that greets those who enter the library.

Opening library new foto Aysha
The mural in the new library was made by students.

1:28: “I’m boiling”

The sun has made its way through the clouds and is now beaming through the big windows of the building. Finding it a bit too hot for her own comfort, Natalia Derossi takes a break under the willows outside

“Do they have air-conditioning in here? I’m boiling.”

Library opening breaktime foto laanen
Natalia Derossi cools down under the willow trees outside the library.

1:05: The art brings color to the place

In the Erasmus Gallery, Koen Taselaar and Henri Jacobs have their art exhibition, JA TA TA JA, on display. Hanging above the staircases on both sides of the library are also tapestries also made by Jacobs. The colorful, geometrical interplay of the tapestry brings color to an otherwise bleak stairway.

Art in new library foto Laanen
A tapestry made by Henri Jacobs.

12.32: Interview in the bathroom

After a couple of cappuccinos, my bladder has reached maximum capacity. Time for my first trip to the WC of the new library. In there, I find Pietro Vigilanza checking himself out. While he combs his hair, he gives praise to the aesthetics.

“The semi-dark lighting and the checkered tiles make it a pleasant place to do your deeds.”

Bathroom new library foto Laanen
Looking good Pietro, looking good.

11:57 Read more about the opening

No more battling fellow students for a seat in the Polak. Today, after nearly two years of renovation, the University Library opened up its doors to students.

11:20 Welcome home!

10:12 ‘This building was designed with the students in mind’

“For us, it’s amazing to see how all our ideas have translated into something that works in practice,” library director Matthijs van Otegem told EM. “Before the renovation, no light could enter the building and it was always so crowded in the afternoon that it felt as if we were running out of air. Now we have way more places to study, high-quality furniture, and more light coming in. This building was designed with the students in mind, and we’re proud to have it open before the start of the exam period.”

9:32 Cappuccino delivery

As I settled into a study spot with a view over the pond, the butler, who looks finer than Geoffrey from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, brings me a cappuccino and a peanut-butter chocolate bon bon. Is the butler only going to be here for today or can he just stay forever?


Library opening gift foto Laanen
Cappuccino and a bon bon, sitting pretty next to my new cactus.

08:00 Ismael was the first to enter

“It’s definitely worth all the time it took to renovate,” said Ismael Yerbanga (IBEB), who was the first student to enter the new library. “There’s more light, it’s modern, and more spacious. I used to be here all day long during my first year so it feels good to be back.”


Library opening 1 foto Muus
Ismael Yerbanga receives a massage from the library butler as a reward for being the first student to enter the new library. Image credit: Michelle Muus

07:40 Already a big line

It’s quite early for a Monday morning, but EM doesn’t want to miss out on the opening of the new University Library. Ivar arrives and… there’s already a big line. Will this be Polak all over again?

line opening library