LED Lights Breath Life Back into Libraries around the World

Books are weighing heavily on my mind...maybe that’s because they have been weighing heavily on my biceps all weekend. After helping my father move his extensive library of books—some to his new office, some to storage and some to charity—I was struck with how many manuscripts he owned and how many had probably not been cracked open in ages, if ever. That got me thinking about lighting, and how a well-lit library might, in fact, be a more frequently used library.

It turns out others have entertained this thought as well (including artist Airan Kang, who created the stunning digital LED library pictured above). The result is a growing LED lighting trend in libraries around the world, from huge, public collections to private libraries in home residences. Why the shift? Well, LED lights make as much sense for rooms filled with books as they do for kitchens, living rooms, backyards and wine cellars, to name a few. Linear LED fixtures like LED strip lights provide directional lighting that highlights specific objects without emitting UV radiation that can damage delicate materials (like paper). They maintain cool temperatures, thus eliminating heat damage and reducing costs through energy efficiency and a long lifespan. But if that’s not reason enough, LED lights also emphasize the beauty of books, and make them more appealing to readers everywhere. If you don’t believe me, check out the following LED libraries.

Mexico City’s Castro Leal Library won first place at the Mexican Association of Interior Designers’ 2012 AMDI Awards thanks to LED strip lighting installed on the building’s many shelves. Here, lighting serves both form and function: it makes finding books easier, and creates an inviting, contemporary and chic vibe throughout the library.

The Pasadena Central Library reduced its energy bill by 90 percent thanks to LED light fixtures that replaced several 900-watt metal-halide bulbs in the building’s antique pendant fixtures.  Not only is the historic aesthetic of the building preserved, but also several thousands of dollars are saved each month in air conditioning, lighting and maintenance costs, as each fixture now uses only 95 watts of power.

And in East Germany, an open air, 24-hour public library is revitalizing an underserved neighborhood with high unemployment and building vacancies ranging around 80 percent. Designed by Karo Architects, the space is built with blocks salvaged from demolished buildings and utilizes an honor system of lending and returning books, all of which are donated. The building is attached to a community green space, and “communal stage, which is used for elementary school plays, book readings, concerts, and cultural events. A volunteer group of residents take care of keeping the books organized and the reading areas clean,” according to PSFK. Energy efficient, green LED lights help keep the library open through the night, not to mention looking quite snazzy around the clock.

It’s a common conception that reading is a dying trend, but with innovative libraries like these popping up across the globe, it’s a sign that things might be turning around in favor of books. If you’re inspired to highlight your at-home book collection with LED lights, please let us know how your renovation turns out!

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