I ran past the National Library at lunchtime today. It’s big, or seems big for a three-story building, and a lot of people thinks it’s big and ugly. I don’t. I’m one of its apologists, being something of a fan of the brutal in our buildings.
But something else struck me as I ran past: my three-year-old son still thinks I work there. I haven’t done for over a year now and I’ve pointed out to him the drab office block on The Terrace in which I now work. But he’s got an eye for architecture, or that’s what I tell myself, and just won’t believe that I work in a nondescript building. For him, it’s the National Library or bust.
Not that I’m advocating all cultural institutions be judged by toddlers: when I said to my dad once how I’d grown to love Te Papa since having a child to take there, he opined that that was hardly a ringing endorsement…
But there must be something in the fact that the Library sticks so firmly in the mind of a three-year-old, some kind of strength of purpose visible in the structure, and that’s worth retaining.
Image source: from the organisation record for the National Library of New Zealand — Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa at the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre