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The tiny public library in the small city of Calvi on the North-West corsican coast is a gentle but monumental distillation of the spirits of literature, enquiry and scholarship. (Delight).

Possibly the smallest public library in the world is at Place Saint-Charles in Calvi, Corsica. It is certainly the smallest of the 3400 Bibliotheques Pour Tous in the whole of France. John Perrin reports that it was opened in 1966 by the Duchess Pozzo di Borgo, an American married into one of the ancient families of the island. Its octagonal plan is four metres across and it is some five metres high.

The octagon, suggests Perrin, was chosen for its resonance with the baptistries of the ancient and gothic worlds. Five of its sides are fully shelved, two are half shelved with windows above and the eighth side has the French windows of the entrance. A central octagonal librarian's desk ensures that circulation must be rotatory, but there are usually only four or five users dreaming in the small yet tall and calm space.

Perrin says that when he discovered the building, he had to keep returning to it, 'not just for the novelty value' but 'because I had to experience the process of browsing the books in this tiny building that stands so thoughtfully upright...confident in its role as a provider of fact, fable and fiction to the townspeople of Calvi'. The architect is unknown.
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Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Mar 1, 2003
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