At over 11,000′ in altitude, Cusco literally leaves you breathless. Charming colonial and mestizo buildings intermingle across the hills of the city. From the main plaza, cobbled streets give way to stone staircases leading to artistic San Blas and the upper reaches of the city.
Magnificent pre-Columbian sites greet you at every turn. Houses cover the surrounding slopes and skilled drivers navigate the incredibly narrow streets while avoiding pedestrians and dogs.
Fittingly amongst all these beautiful buildings, the Cusco public library has one of the most magnificent main rooms I’ve ever seen.
The stained glass windows and ceiling, intricate ironwork, octagonal display cases and pristine tiled floors make quite an impression. Bronze banisters frame a wonderful imperial staircase.
Pass by the gorgeous nude statue to get to the second floor where encircling hallways overlook the lobby through multi-paned open windows.
Director Joe Concha Rivera was extremely welcoming and kindly took a little time to tell me about the library.
They have closed stacks, so people simply request items and read them in this splendid structure. The library is free to students, and is only 9.44 soles per year (about $3.50) for others. They have about 60,000 books on a variety of subjects and they will take material donations.
They have an internet area with 26 snazzy black and red computers with matching furniture. Students can use the computers for two hours (or longer if there isn’t a wait). Other patrons have a fifteen minute limit and mainly use the area to read newspapers online.
Nearby, a matching red and black kiosk gives helpful information about the city to residents and tourists.
Posters and bulletin boards catch the eye and keep everyone apprised of events and programs.
The sala escolar (scholastic room) is bright and colorful, and on cold winter days, the fireplace makes it quite cozy.
There’s a very open and airy feeling about the place, especially here and in the children’s area.
Artwork abounds. Huge black and white historic photographs adorn the computer area and one of the study rooms. Sculptures, pottery, and paintings are everywhere.
The Children’s Area has small furniture appropriate for their size and plenty of light from walls of windows.
It continues outside with this upper courtyard – perfect for the many sunny days Cusco is blessed with. What a great place to listen to a story!
The library was founded in the 1800’s and was in several different places until it moved to its current location in 1993. Then, after a renovation, Municipalidad del Cusco Biblioteca “Gustavo Perez Ocampo” was dedicated in May 2005.
The library of Cusco is part of the service that the Municipality of Cusco provides to all citizens and the current mayor of Cusco, Sr. Luis Florez García, is doing a good job improving the service.
With over 500,000 people living in this dry, mountainous area, this busy, well used biblioteca is obviously a treasured resource.