For a long time in the main building of The Factory coworking and events space, there has been a mysterious room. If you could get a peek inside, it was lined with wood and had cushy-looking furniture – a stark contrast with the modern industrial building made of grey, white and yellow concrete and metal.
On Saturday the veil was lifted as The Factory opened its new Inspiration Library. The room’s four walls with built-in bookshelves to fit 5,000 books are divided into two categories: fiction books and a reference library. But don’t think of encyclopedias and natural science texts – this reference library is exclusively dedicated to design.
“Architecture books, design, landscape, photography, music, interior design, fashion, even typography – everything that is basically photography, or what we will call coffee table books,” said Carlos Estevez, manager of The Factory’s Workspace 1 who spearheaded this project. The purpose is twofold – to inspire others and to have universal reach, regardless of language: “that everybody should be able to understand what is happening. Things that will sort of trigger people’s mind.”
Chinese-language interior design magazines share shelves with a Spanish-language book on typography and English-language books on historic architecture, fashion illustration, and home and garden. The collection of travel books (I know nothing inspires me more than browsing the wonderful places I could travel to!) covers Asia extensively.
Fiction titles on the novel side range from romance to fantasy, from children’s books to adults. Even some non-fiction biographies illuminating the remarkable lives of others have made their way into the mix.
The books are entirely donated, the product of Workspace 1’s Saturday book exchanges and donation drives. Currently they have around 500 titles, but are prepared for ten times that amount. The available languages are indicative of our diverse community, with books in Khmer, English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and other languages.
“We take everything except study books and textbooks, and they have to be in good condition,” said Roth Yeoun, who is managing the new library and has been feverishly working with his team to get the space ready in time for launch. They are installing an online management system that will make creating memberships and things like scanning out books a breeze. There’s hope that in the future this library could also be connected in a system with some local school libraries, providing access to a larger range of titles.
“We want to create a network so that the students can rotate hopefully from library to library in case they need any resources,” said Carlos.
It’s still in prototyping stage, so the membership process hasn’t been officially launched yet. As of now, the system and its membership cards will be given to Factory members to make sure that it works smoothly, and then it’ll be widened to the public (though it’ll always be open to the public for things like book club meetings).
The target audience for the library, though, is young Cambodians. “Like 70% Cambodian,” said Roth, “and the other 30% expats, or foreigners. But mostly we just focus on Cambodians.” After extensive research of other libraries in the city, he said it’s looking like a membership will be available for a $2.50 annual fee – so watch this space for details, or contact the team on +855 17 999 547 if you can’t wait to get stuck into a book.