Wednesday, 14 November 2012

My morning coffee: Democratic cafe, Hovedbiblioteket

We're incredibly lucky as my husband rarely travels for his work. He takes on more than his share of the childcare, drops the children at school at least twice a week, is home in time for a family dinner every night and never works at weekends. However, today he left for a trip to New York and then on to Canada. And so, I'm gearing up for a stint of solo parenting and its going to be a shock to the system! I'll need some tricks up my sleeves for the more challenging hours in the lives of 2 and 5 year olds. Without a doubt, I find the end of the day the most stressful - when the peace and quiet of sleeping children is tantalisingly within my grasp but there is still bathtime and storytime to get through. As a special treat (and to get maximum return on my parenting efforts) I have promised the children bedtime stories together in 'the cave' (a.k.a the cosy space under my son's raised bunk created by hanging a blanket down the sides). The children love this change to the routine and will happily snuggle up with me for stories behind the blanket on the bed of cushions. I've also decided to go for the jackpot and stock up on a new collection of library books for our first night without daddy. So, having waved off my husband, it was off to the Hovedbibliotek for my morning coffee...

One doesn't usually associate beverages with libraries - in England, its forbidden - but if I've learned one thing here in Denmark its to challenge my preconceptions. Danish libraries never cease to amaze me - they're about so much more than just books. The cafes, the extensive magazine collections (including the chance to borrow archived issues for 14 day loans), the music and DVDs, the text messages when your loans are due back and the online facilities for renewal, the readings, the concerts, the gallery corners, the IT facilities - its all there. The library stock seems to know no bounds and the system for getting to it is free and simple. And yes, you're allowed to take your drinks (and snacks) into the library to enjoy while you browse. If you don't want to leave the comfort of your armchair at home you can access the music streaming via the Bibzoom website (for free - a serious rival to Spotify) or watch your favourite movie (up to 5 films per month - for free!) via Filmstriben. All you need is your trusty CPR card to register.


And don't get me started on the children's sections....stocked with picture books and story books in many languages - there's a very impressive English book section and fantastic collections of toys, puzzles, drawing materials, dressing up clothes and push-along vehicles for indoor play on rainy days. Most libraries have computer terminals for children and the main library on Krystalgade has iPads for the little ones. I've even heard rumours that on Wednesdays children are invited to 'climb the shelves' although when I was there this morning the kindergarten group that was visiting was content to run around in an elaborate (and noisy) game of knights and princesses.

We spent many a happy hour sheltering from the elements in the local library during our early days here in the middle of a particularly cold and snowy winter but since then the trips to the bibliotek (whether its the local one near home, the one near school or in the centre of town - one card fits all!) are now a weekly outing whatever the weather. This morning I had a leisurely read of the paper, whilst sipping my cappuccino and left with a bag full of new books for tonight's bedtime stories in the cave. 

Cost: double shot cappuccino at the Democratic Cafe costs 35 DKK
Coffee hygge factor: 5 out of 5 (yes, its a library that provides the perfect setting for a good cappuccino, it turns out)

Find out more about Copenhagen's libraries at

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