From Iceland — Inside Reykjavík’s Best Libraries

Inside Reykjavík’s Best Libraries

Published October 11, 2022

Inside Reykjavík’s Best Libraries
Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Borgarbókasafn, The National and University Library

It’s not news that Icelanders like to read. It’s also not news that books in Iceland are damn expensive. Both locals and expats use a variety of public and university libraries around the country on a daily basis, and some even for work—isn’t a library the oldest (free) co-working space after all?! While we still have to go a long ways to be able to compete with Finland and splurge state budgets on Independence Day presents like a new fancy library (google Oodi if you have no idea what we are talking about), we do have some nice ones!

The Library at Kópavogur

Hamraborg 6a, 200 Kópavogur

The Library at Kópavogur is both a fine library as well as a fantastic adventurous world for children. Not only can they access another world through the literature, but also there is a whole ground floor just for the children with many activities. What’s more, children can read for trained dogs; the program is especially designed for children that have a hard time reading, but everyone is welcome. On top of that, if you want to write, there is an impressive writing workshop there, and has been there for years. Outside is a huge inflated jumping mattress if you get bored of writing or reading. And if you need inspiration, look no further: Gerðuberg, one of Iceland’s most ambitious art galleries, is next door. VG

Borgarbókasafnið – Culture House Úlfarsárdal

Úlfarsbraut 122 -124, 113 Reykjavík

We’re taking a small chance here, but at first look, this library is outstanding although it hasn’t been open for a long time. It’s part of the recreational centre in the new neighbourhood of Úlfarsárdalur and is open until 22:00 in the evening, meaning that it’s an excellent place to go if you want to play a board game or just clear your mind after a long day. But what we truly love here is that there is also a fantastic new pool outside, perfect after a long read.

There is also a whole music studio there if you want to make your rock star dream come true. I mean, why not? VG

Grófin City Library

Tryggvagata 15, 101 Reykjavík

Since this library is the closest to Grapevine’s office, it has served as a refuge for our writers working behind deadlines on many occasions. With six floors, the library is very spacious and if you’re lucky enough, you might get a seaside view. A nice bonus: the library has a decent record collection you can listen to on their record player. Also, Reykjavík Tool Library has a rental space on the first floor.

Grófin City Library is a part of Borgarbókasafn, or the Reykjavík City Library chain. IZ

National and University Library

Arngrímsgata 3, 107 Reykjavík

The National and University Library is the largest and, supposedly, the most advanced library in Iceland. It boasts a wide range of services and facilities, like special study, work areas, and group workrooms. While the library is mostly used by students and academia from local universities, it is still a public library, so peasant folk like us are also welcome to pop inside. IZ


Multiple locations

If a traditional library bores you out, but you still want to rent a book—make sure to check out the Bookmobile, aka ‘The Chief.’ The Bookmobile has its home base in Kringlan, and goes around the city every weekday between September 1th and June 30th, stopping in 30 locations. One can also pre-book the Bookmobile to visit your kid’s pre-school or other institutions. Maybe even your office? IZ

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