The NCL invited Mr. Andris Vilks, Director General of the National Library of Latvia (NLL) to give a talk on June 8. His topic was: "The Castle of Light: Green Technologies of the New National Library of Latvia Building". He introduced the new characteristics of the building, its energy-saving design features. This attracted many library information and construction industry related professionals.
Director General Vilks is one of the most prominent specialists of the library and information sciences. Since 1978 he has worked in the National Library of Latvia, and took over as Director from 1989 to the present. He has served the library field for 38 years and has been striving to develop the project of the new National Library of Latvia.
The NLL was established on 29 August 1919 and founded in Riga. The new building was completed in the end of 2013, and the NLL opened for the public on 12 June 2014. Gunnar Birkerts was invited to become an author for the new National Library building. He is a well-known American architect who created many public building in the USA, including public libraries, museums and academic buildings. The key characteristics of the new NLL building are flexibility, light and place. Therefore, it is called "the Castle of Light"
During her speech, Director General Tseng mentioned that currently, green architecture and the environmental consciousness are gradually increasing. In recent years Taiwan has given much attention to such issues. Many libraries have strived to create low energy consumption buildings. That the director of the National Library of Latvia can come and address the development of green architecture technologies for libraries is a rare opportunity. In the last few years, National Central Library has begun plans for a new facility. The unique elements of the National Library of Latvia's green design, when incorporated into our plan, will result in a National Central Library that is "natural, energy-saving, environmentally-friendly, and sustainable".
Many participants took the opportunity to ask Director General Vilks questions after his speech. They wanted to know whether a survey was made to collect and study the opinions of the readers; the measures to save water and electricity; the experience of using of solar energy; the material sources of library furniture and causes and problems met these twenty years starting from the planning to the construction of the Library.
Director General Vilks answered all the questions. The collection of readers' views and suggestions is done through the Library web site and social media. Moreover, during the months of June and July, surveys/questionnaires are also given. Latvia has four distinct seasons of the year. Through energy-saving induction measures and programs, the greatest achievement is saving 30% electricity. Currently, solar panels are mounted on the Library roof top. In the earlier days, the customized design cost highly. Presently, with the increasingly advancing technology, the cost is reduced which will be helpful and will contribute to the use of solar energy and related measures. For the library furniture, we choose to use the wood of a relatively stronger, more compact American maple tree. However, all the furniture are made in Latvia.
The planning and construction of our new Library took twenty long years mainly because the government must be assured that the financial aspect is secure before starting the construction. From the planning to the completion, the exterior architectural design of the Library has not changed with only a few technical adjustments. It is also because of the green construction that the cost was augmented.
After his talk, Director General Vilks presented a slide show of the interior and exterior premises of the NLL to share with the participants the magnificent building, the well-lighted interior, the space design reflecting a sense of modernity. We also had a glimpse of the Latvia riverside views.
The NCL and National Library of Latvia have enjoyed a close collaboration. In the year 2013, NCL Director General Tseng was at the National Library of Latvia with Director General Vilks. Together, they signed a cooperation agreement to establish the Taiwan Resource Center for Chinese Studies (TRCCS). The NCL provided books published in Taiwan and e-databases related to Chinese Studies as well Taiwan Studies. That is helpful for the researchers. In 2015, both libraries once again organized the "Exhibition: Imprints of Civilization" to introduce printing techniques and the developments in the printing industry.
After Director General Vilks' speech, the NCL projected a film showing the TRCCS and the exhibition as well as NCL's efforts to expand Chinese studies abroad. Hopefully, it will encourage more research institutions to share their databases on Taiwan and Chinese studies with overseas TRCCS to promote global sharing of resources.
Director General Tseng presented souvenirs to Director General Vilks. In return, Director General Vilks offered a book on NLL architecture to NCL. After the speech, Director General Vilks visited NCL Rare Books Room to see NCL's collection and ways of preservation of rare books.