World's 'loneliest library' gives bookworms serene seaside views
By Ding Siyue
The Sanlian seaside library, built on a beach in northern China's Hebei Province, aims to offer a telling experience.
Sitting alone on the beach with a simple silhouette and bare concrete facade, the building is dubbed "the world's loneliest library".
"During our design process, I saw an Andrew Wyeth painting in a book. It is of an old man sitting on a rock, looking at the sea. There's a feeling of loneliness in the painting. And I think it helped inspire our design of the library," said Dong Gong, the architect of the library.
The architect said he hopes the library can be a space where people enjoy a connection with the sea.
The Sanlian seaside library. /VCG Photo

The Sanlian seaside library. /VCG Photo

The interior decor is wooden, to match the feel of nature, and large glass doors bring the sea, with its soothing sights and sounds, to the readers.
The inside of the building is in a stair-step shape, so that people sitting near the sea won't block those behind them and everyone can enjoy the beautiful sight. 
Opened in 2015, the library has welcomed 160,000 visitors so far.
With an area of 500 square meters, the library boasts more than 10 million books, covering all genres. Two-fifths of them have been donated by book lovers. 
Jorge Luis Borges once said, "I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library". 
What he imagined has indeed become a reality at this seashore library where people can soak up the sun, sights, and sounds of the beach, while reading a book.
The northern location of the library means that there's a seasonal variation to the number of visitors.
Sanlian seaside library. /VCG Photo

Sanlian seaside library. /VCG Photo

"The building is near the sea, so there are many visitors during summer, around 600-7000 per day. Sometimes it can reach over 1,000 people. But in winter, there are only 70 to 80 people per day and around 300 during weekends," said Wang Xin, a staff member of Sanlian seaside library.
People nowadays have various ways of getting books and reading, like buying them online or just downloading ebooks. So libraries are no longer a place just for reading, but also for people to immerse themselves in a cultural atmosphere.
Many activities have been held in this seaside library, bringing a cultural feast to residents and travelers.
"We have various community activities being held here throughout the year, such as book and poetry readings, chamber music concerts, choruses, modern dances and drama plays. Both local residents and tourists are welcome to join these activities. We have been holding them once or even twice every week throughout the year, which is far beyond our expectations when we built the place," said Wang Tianye, staff member of Aranya community office.
It might not have a huge floor area, but the world's loneliest library definitely offers people a unique reading experience.