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Much-loved Library space is open again

Jan Eliasson at the opening of the reading room
Jan Eliasson at the opening of the reading room
Friday 9 December 2016

Topics: Events

A special place

To celebrate the 55th anniversary of the inauguration of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, the Library has re-opened its second-floor reading room.

The reading room is a special place for many in the UN community.

The Dag Hammarskjold Library was dedicated to the second Secretary-General after his death in 1961. At the time, the Library Building was written up in architectural magazines which described the room in glowing detail:

“All is movement in the slope of the wall and undulating ceiling of the Woodrow Wilson Room. The informal planking of the Idaho white pine ceiling and wall contrasts with the dark African wenge wood of the card catalog which follows the sloping line of the wall. The end walls are of Peruvian travertine…”
(Interiors Magazine, 1963)

The room has gone through many transformations since 1961. For decades it was called the Woodrow Wilson Reading Room because it housed the U.S. president’s papers about the League of Nations.

It was closed in 2008 to accommodate the media outlets covering the UN during the Capital Management Plan. Construction damaged the ceiling and made it necessary to refurbish the room before it could be used.

During the eight years it was closed, people often stopped by the second floor wondering when the reading room would be open again.

Ramona Kohrs, Library Outreach Coordinator, says she understands why, “We still find ourselves drawn to these places of quiet. To slip away from quick pace of work here at UN Headquarters and focus on the complex problems we are trying to solve.”

“A place to study and learn”

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially re-open the space on 21 November.

Pointing out the two-story windows at the back of the reading room, Eliasson noted the clear line of sight to the Meditation Room – another contribution of Hammarskjöld - across the courtyard. He told the assembled diplomatic mission representatives and Secretariat staff to “go over there to meditate. Think and then come over here to learn….to study.”

Learn more about the history of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library: https://library.un.org/content/our-mandate-history.

The second-floor reading room is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 18:00.