The São Paulo Library (local acronym BSP) was officially opened in February 2010. It is part of the Culture Secretariat of the São Paulo State Government and is managed by the voluntary cultural organization SP Leituras (SP Reading). It is located in the Parque da Juventude park. in the northern part of the city, and occupies the site of the former Carandiru Prison Complex, known mainly for the massacre of prisoners that occurred there in 1992.
The library was designed by the Aflalo/Gasperini Arquitetos architectural firm and was created with the idea of being an innovative welcoming space and to promote social inclusion. This was so successful that its inauguration led to a rebirth and revitalization of the whole region which is surrounded by underprivileged communities.
São Paulo´s northern area has 14 shelters and centers for homeless people, along with the Zachi Narchi community, consisting of former prisoners and the relatives of former inmates who still live around the park. The library´s mission is to serve this broad range of groups. It is not unusual to see people from the community and nearby shelters waiting in line for the library to open to use its facilities. Everyone benefits from the services provided and can play an active part in the cultural initiatives provided free of charge. These include: workshops, games, film shows and the use of computers and Internet access.
This welcome, which is in the library´s DNA, is the result of a combination of factors: besides the daring architecture, it has a team of social assistants and members of the community and also offers a range of services, such as guidance for the issue of documents and the creation of CVs.
The urban effects resulting from the installation of the library in the area were even greater than the impact caused by its impressive physical structure. The library stamped a new positive identity on the whole area. A place of imprisonment and death has been transformed into one of life and freedom of knowledge.
The São Paulo Library is located in the Parque da Juventude park (http://parquedajuventude.sp.gov.br/), near the Carandiru subway station (blue line).
SÃO PAULO LIBRARY
Avenida Cruzeiro do Sul, 2.630 - CEP: 02030-100
Santana District – Northern Zone - São Paulo (SP) - Brazil
Tel: + 55 (11) 2089-0800
Tuesday to Sunday and holidays, from 9:30 to 18:30. Closed on Mondays.
Former Carandiru prison becomes a park
The Parque da Juventude project was the winning entrant in an open architectural competition promoted by the state government which attracted 59 entries. It transformed the area of almost one million square meters, previously occupied by the prison blocks, into a public park.
The design of the park was carried out with the active participation of landscape designers Rosa Kliass and José Luiz Brenna – highlighted by the treatment of the area of the former walls and access square. Two blocks from the original buildings, which were maintained and totally changed, now house two technical training schools.
More than a new library
When the Culture Secretariat of the São Paulo State Government was looking for a building to house the São Paulo Library, it identified the potential of the Parque da Juventude as a place to establish a unique model of a public library in which visitors can combine their reading habits with the leisure opportunities offered by the park.
The São Paulo Library was set up in 2010 in a multi-use building with features that were completely in accordance with the new use for which it was intended. It was innovative in giving priority to encouraging the use of the library for the habit of reading rather than as a place for research and reference purpose.
This library provides a collection in various forms (books, audio books, books in Braille, digital books, CDs, DVDs, video games, traditional games, toys, etc.). The library´s collection has more than 43,000 books and is updated weekly with new publications and suggestion from the members. It concentrates on domestic and international literature but also covers the Humanities (Philosophy, History, Geography, Social Sciences) along with Environment and Sports.
The BSP library was created to be accessible. Not only has the building been totally adapted, with tactile floor and adapted lifts and furniture but there is also equipment that facilitates reading for people with deficiencies, e.g. scanners that can convert any written script into audio or Braille and an automatic book flipper. The collection also offers items such as publications with larger type for visually impaired people, works with illustrations in high relief and different textures.
Another feature of a living library is the cultural program. More than 900 activities are held a year, including storytelling, reading club events, chats with the main contemporary Brazilian writers, writing workshops, educational activities and audiovisual creation, exhibitions, theater outings, musical shows, courses linked to innovation and citizenship, and lots of entertainment.
The cultural program is free and created to meet all age ranges. It is split as follows:
CHILDREN´S SECTION – this includes a program for the first contact with stories and books and is aimed at children aged from six months to four and their parents (Read in the Nest); story-telling sessions (Short Story Time); presentations, theatrical games, drawings and playing games with a literary and cultural theme (Playing and Learning and Having Fun)
YOUNG PEOPLE - the Luau program presents the young people with themes linked to music, literature, poetry and modern life and also has an area for artistic presentations.
ADULTS and 60+ – Sarau presents activities that bring together literature, singing and poetry; a monthly chat with well-known authors (Second Intentions) and Reading Club when a group gets together to discuss a selected book. The library also provides a Basic Information Technology Course and Smartphone and Social Networks Workshop for people over 60.
GENERAL PUBLIC – story-telling sessions and reading space set up in tents in the Parque da Juventude (Sunday in the Park); chess workshops for people with and without disabilities (Games for All!); round of games which stimulate sensory skills and the memory of people with and without disabilities (Sensorial Games); free film shows with sessions for adults and children (MIS Place) and book reading excerpts for users of the library, as a way of recommending and presenting a new author (A Word in Your Ear). Besides these activities, everyone can also take part in the Second Intentions and Reading Club.
Interesting points about the BSP
When visitors look up to the ceiling of the library, they see some important pages of Brazilian culture folded up in the shape of a paper airplane, each one of which is over three meters long.
There are seven planes: the page from a Portuguese dictionary with the entry Liberdade, i.e. freedom; a page from the famous children´s story The Crazy Little Boy (O Menino Maluquinho) by Ziraldo; a musical score as a tribute to the composer Tom Jobim, alongside the manuscript of the song Desafinado (Out of Tune) and the other Samba do avião; (Airplane samba); a page of comics called Os Skrotinhos, by Angeli; a page containing the first revision of the book Grande sertão: veredas, (Great backlands: trails) by João Guimarães Rosa and, alongside, a page of concrete poetry by Ronaldo Azeredo.
The BSP library has a striking visual communication and setting project consisting of large typographical letters and images in blocks that not only encourage inclusion and accessibility but also reflect the literary world found in the library.
The letters appear in various forms and formats on all sides, inside and outside the space, showing that every text is different from the other, every book is an idea and every reader has his or her own preferences. On entering, the visitors are received by the letters B, S and P, abbreviations of the Portuguese words Biblioteca de São Paulo which literally means Library of São Paulo. The letters also appear at the attendance counter and throughout the whole building, sometimes in relief form, sometimes on the surfaces and sometimes in Braille.
People are the other important focus of the library. When the project was being set up, people who use the park were invited to choose a favorite book and pose for photographs which were blown up and cut up to cover the windows of the library. Others posed for photos doing what they most liked or identified with. The participants included skateboarders and roller bladers, cyclists and joggers, whole families... in short, groups which represent the diverse public.
This space was designed for readers of all ages, characteristics and desires.