Latvia celebrates opening of new National Library

Friday, August 29, 2014 - 18:30

The Castle of Light, the iconic new National Library of Latvia (NLL), is now open for business. The official opening ceremony took place on Friday 29 August. President Bērziņš, Prime Minister Straujuma and the Cabinet attended, as well as a number of foreign dignitaries. H.R.H. Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, Founder and Honorary Chair of the Reading & Writing Foundation and UNESCO Special Envoy on Literacy for Development, who was one of the speakers during the ceremony.

In her remarks, Princess Laurentien congratulated the Latvian people with their new National Library, calling it "a beacon of national pride and inspiration". The new building, which was designed by the internationally renowned Latvian architect Gunārs Birkerts, enables citizens to be informed and empowered and participate in society. However, it is "also a stark reminder that one in five Europeans lack the reading and writing skills to do exactly that: participate fully in society", H.R.H. Princess Laurentien said.

In Latvian folklore, a crystal mountain symbolises the height of achievement. Now, after almost 6 years of construction, this architectural symbol overpeers the capital Riga. Located on the left bank of the Daugava River, the Castle of Light is a visible metaphor for wisdom that has been lost once and reclaimed in the end. Just as this magnificent building is, the problem of illiteracy must be visible for society. Only then we can solve the problem as a "broad movement involving a range of players", H.R.H. Princess Laurentien said.

Read the full text of H.R.H. Princess Laurentien's speech