A plan for establishing city libraries in five regions to accelerate balanced information and culture development in Seoul has been formulated. Seoul City will be constructing two libraries in the southwestern region (Gangseo and Gwanak as well as one each in the northeastern (Dobong), southeastern (Songpa), and northwestern (Seodaemun) regions step by step by 2025 through the investment of a budget amounting to KRW 310 billion.
If the Seoul Metropolitan Library, the only municipal library in the city, is the main building, the soon-to-be-built five regional city libraries will play the role of branches. The number of libraries established by each district (66) and small libraries (195) will be increased to 216 and 1200 by 2025 as well. When the project is done, the library network in Seoul will become denser and contain 1,444 libraries, increased from the current 1,178, so that all citizens can enjoy high-quality information and culture near their homes.
Seoul City selected the region to build the city libraries in considering balanced regional development first, in order to address the gap of information and culture between regions and to encourage their equal development. Focusing on the regions with few cultural facilities, the number of libraries in the area, their scale, accessibility, and the synergy effect with other cultural and public facilities were comprehensively considered.
The city libraries that will be newly established will not only be places to read books, but spaces for residents’ communication with books as the mediation where they discuss, enjoy exhibitions and performances, create and study—presenting a new paradigm of libraries.
Specifically, each library will be established as a special library. For example, one built in the southwestern region will be a “science and environment library,” focusing on experience programs and education, making the most of its location where visitors can find the Seoul Botanic Park and several neighborhood and eco parks nearby. In the northwestern region, where companies related to digital media and major broadcasting stations are concentrated, a “digital media library” will be established. In the northeastern region, where the most number of universities are concentrated in the nation, a “lifelong study library” will be built.
Seoul City announced the target regions where the regional city libraries will be established and a concrete plan containing the content mentioned above, claiming that it will innovatively improve and expand the library infrastructure in Seoul and lead the qualitative innovation of public libraries.
First, the libraries that will be built in five regions will be ① a “humanities and social science library” in the northeastern region (Banghak-dong, Dobong-gu), ② a “digital media library” in the northwestern region (Gajaeul New Town, Seodaemun-gu), ③ a “science and environment library” in the southwestern region (Naebalsan-dong, Gangseo-gu), ④ a “start-up and business library” in the southwestern region (Geumcheon Police Station, Gwanak-gu), and ⑤ a “performance and art library” in the southeastern region (Wirye Housing Site, Songpa-gu).
Second, the city will invest KRW 125.2 billion to establish an additional 66 public libraries by 2025 so that every citizen can use a library within a 10-minute walk from their home. The number of public small libraries will also be increased from 1,005 to 1,200.
Last, library service will be renovated as well. A “mobile library” service will be available through which the books and materials of all public libraries (city and district) and education office libraries can be searched and borrowed with a single app. The libraries will become more accessible as the city will run one “support center for the disadvantaged group in information services” in each of the 25 autonomous districts. The program tailored to users’ life-cycle stages will also be accelerated.