Friday, February 21, 2014

The Book Hive

To celebrate 400 years of libraries in Bristol, the Central Library is currently home to the Book Hive, a wonderful animatronic installation featuring 400 hardback books. It is the work of local robotics firm Rusty Squid, and it is brilliant.

As you move past the installation, which has each book housed within a honeycomb style hexagon, the books open and close in time with your movements. Even when people are not around, they continue to gently flutter and open and close slightly, creating the illusion that the books are alive. They even make tiny squeaking and chirping sounds, like a flock of birds.

My first thoughts on walking into the library were that it was like walking into Hogwarts. The feeling of an  everyday, inanimate object having come to life is really quite magical. I absolutely loved it.

The installation is free to visit, and I really recommend visiting. I managed to get a video of the books opening and closing as I walked past them, but it doesn't do justice to seeing them in real life.

The Book Hive made me so happy! It is a very simple but brilliant idea, and really feels very special. I think it is a lovely celebration of the library.

Bristol Central Library itself is a stunning building, with some beautiful details such as these stained glass windows. It is what I would call a "proper" library-the downstairs is more modern but still packed with books and very friendly, while the upper floor is more traditional, with individual study desks and spiral stair cases to get to the mezzanines which are filled with yet more books. It would be a wonderful place to go for some quiet study. There is also a basic but lovely cafe, which has excellent coffee cake.

The arches next to the library were very beautiful too, with intricate carving.

I would really like to go back to the Book Hive, it was such a lovely experience! 


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