Last week, China, which believes in doing everything huge and big, opened one of the best looking libraries in the world – the Tianjin Binhai Library. It is said to have the capacity of over a million books and designed by local Chinese and Dutch architects has people flocking from all over the world to experience its wonder.
The design is extremely futuristic and looks like a marvel. But there it is somewhat of a sham. Its white, undulating shelves rise from floor to ceiling, but if you read between the lines you’ll spot one problem. Those rows upon rows of book spines are mostly images printed on the aluminium plates that make up the backs of shelves. There are undoubtedly a couple of books strategically placed across the bookshelves, but they're pretty few and far between.
This attracted a lot of bad press in the social media and the authorities have explained that these digital prints are only for visual benefit; the actual library where real books are stored and in other rooms. Books will not be allowed on these shelves which we see in pictures; in fact even the books that were on display in pictures were temporary, and soon had to be removed. The main atrium is only approved for "circulation, sitting, reading and discussion," not book storage, authorities have decided.
So that’s that – like most things in China, what we see is so different from what is actually inside.