A Library Visit in Reykjavik, Iceland

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March 16, 2015 by J. Johnson

Last summer I had the chance to take a dream vacation to Iceland. And of course, as a librarian, I had to visit as many libraries as I could. One of these was the Reykjavík City Library, a public library located near the harbor in downtown Reykjavík.

Chair Display

A Fun Display

Very similar to small urban libraries in the U.S., it is open to all and has areas to browse, sit and read, or meet. Unlike libraries in the U.S., you need to pay an annual fee to be a member and to use their computers. The annual fee of about $20 is waived for senior citizens, those with disabilities, and children under 18. Borrowed items also still have late fees.




While there, I browsed the graphic novel section of the children’s department, periodicals, AV department, and the (very large!) knitting section.


Graphic Novels

Graphic Novels

Childrens Area

Childrens Area








English is very prevalent in Iceland, so materials were available in both Icelandic and English. I even accidentally walked in on an ESL class that was taking place!

As I was leaving, I stopped to speak with a librarian about an unusual collection that they have – fine art from local artists that residents can either rent or rent-to-own. The prices vary based on what is set by the artist (who receives a majority of the fee) and whether you plan to buy the piece or not. It sounded like a really neat program and got me wondering if there are any American libraries that do that.


Display and Seating

Display and Seating

Art Collection

Local Art to Rent or Purchase










My visits to several libraries, bookstores, and museums were a great part of the trip, and meeting the people who worked there was even better.

If you’d like more info about the library, you can visit their website here, and see a short video tour here.

And if you are thinking of visiting Iceland, I’d have to say fara fyrir það!


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