From the minute that I first saw this place, it became one of my favorite spots in Bangkok. The Neilson Hayes Library has been an oasis of books for this city since 1869, and when you first walk in the door, it seems as though the only addition since it first opened over a century ago has been air conditioning.
The books are all behind glass in wooden book cases and the terracotta trim around the windows is as enticing as what waits for the reader. It is hushed and tranquil, the way that libraries were before they became multimedia centers, and there are card catalogs--no computer databases or even microfiche. There are no videos or dvds to check out--only the printed word.
And yet the books range from the distant past to the recently published. Books that had just arrived in my well-stocked Seattle bookstore are available at this library, as well as reference volumes that would make an antiquarian bookseller drool.
This is part of the children's section, where there are regular Saturday story hours, followed by arts and craft activities. It's a corner where I plan to sink into a jellybean-colored beanbag chair and read for hours.
It's a traditional place but certainly not at all stuffy. On Halloween it will host a Solve the Murder evening, complete with cocktails, where attendees are urged to "dress to kill."
Definitely an innovative and sane approach to library fundraising!