I love OBA, the public library in Amsterdam, near Central Station. For me it’s the perfect place to find inspiration for writing. Why? It’s more than just a library where people go to study, read or borrow books. Here are 21 reasons why you should visit the largest public library in Europe.
#1 Free access, seven days a week
Don’t be afraid to hit a closed door. The central library, located on Oosterdokseiland, opens daily at 10.00 AM and closes around 10.00 PM. Tourists and expats are welcome!
#2 Savour modern architecture
If you aren’t a bookworm, no worries. There’s a theatre, radio station and a cafe. And there are often exhibitions. Strolling around in OBA, feels like you’re in a museum of modern art. Submerge in modern design and a welcoming atmosphere.
#3 Newspapers, magazines and books for free
On the ground floor, you can read international newspapers and magazines for free. The Times, The Sun, Der Spiegel: OBA offers an extensive collection. Do you time on your hand? Stay in the library, you can read books for free as well. English novels are located on the second floor.
#4 Herman Brood paintings
Without a single doubt, Herman Brood is the greatest and only Dutch rock n’ roll star. He became famous as frontman of ‘Herman Brood & His Wild Romance’. You probably know their most famous song, ‘Saturday Night’. Perhaps Brood is more known for his drugs escapades and the way he stepped out of life – he jumped off the Hilton Hotel roof. After his career as a musician, he became a painter. At the OBA silent area on the fifth floor you’ll find some of his colourful work.
#5 Enjoy Amsterdam from a higher level
Use the escalators to get to the seventh floor. Here you’ll find restaurant La Place. Their outdoor terrace gives you a panoramic view of the Amsterdam skyline. Great spot for a picture! Mind you, the terrace might be closed in winter.
#6 Hungry? Go for a pasta!
If you’re feeling peckish, there are a few restaurants nearby: Vapiano (next to the entrance) and La Place (seventh floor). I prefer Vapiano. This Italian restaurant is the perfect setting for a quick lunch, afternoon break or hearty dinner. They serve good-value pastas and pizzas. When the sun is out, go to Hannekes Boom, close to the OBA. This is ‘hipster-heaven’ at the waterside.
#7 Wide variety of children’s books
Travelling with kids? Make sure to stop by the OBA. The public library has a wide variety of English children’s books. For all ages.
#8 Play the piano
If you know how to handle the black and white keys, the OBA is your place to shine. There’s a piano on the ground floor. You’re free to make music for thirty minutes. So, get your hands dirty and show ‘m what you’ve got!
#9 Clean toilets on the ground floor and 7th floor
#10 Charge your smartphone
There are countless power outlets to recharge your dying smartphone, notebook or tablet. Without being guilted into buying a cup of coffee or sandwich.
#11 OBA close to Central Station
The OBA central library is located on Oosterdokskade 143. From Central Station, it’s only a five minute walk. Perfect when you need to kill some time. For example before catching your train to Schiphol Airport.
#12 When it rains, OBA is a perfect place to take shelter
#13 Computers available
If you’re travelling without laptop or smartphone, use one of the hundreds OBA computers. Useful for printing tickets, emailing your friends or writing blogs about your time in Amsterdam. You can get a guest account at the service desk on the ground floor.
#14 Calm atmosphere
Tired of all those worked up Dutchies on bikes? In the public library you’ll find serenity. Perfect to get lost in your favourite novel for a few hours.
#15 Nothing beats the smell of paper
You may have found yourself relying on the internet for reading books and gathering information. But, the smell of paper and the feel of turning a page is unbeatable.
#16 Relaxing chairs
Scattered over all seven floors, you’ll find hundreds of relaxing chairs. Some of them give you a magnificent view of Amsterdam.
#17 Amsterdam history books
Of course, you’ll find your information about the Dutch capital on the internet. In general, libraries collect everything they can from their own city. In OBA, you’ll find many English books about the history of Amsterdam.
#18 Free lockers in the basement (to store your luggage)
#19 Plenty of desk space
#20 OBA membership 20 or 35 euro
Are you an expat or student? And here for a few weeks or months? Then it might be worth getting an OBA membership. For unlimited internet access and borrowing books, dvd’s and cd’s. Here are your options.
#21 Locations scattered over the city
Besides the central library on Oosterdokskade, there are over twenty other OBA establishments located in Amsterdam. Check out the website.