For years, the large glass cube on De Coninckplein in front of the Permeke library was an eatery, but over time the link with the library has become increasingly vague. The success of the Urban Bib in the main library inspired the employees to further develop the concept and open it completely in their own building.
From now on, young people aged 16 to 26 can gather outside school hours in their own glass palace. “We deliberately chose that age category,” says project leader Laure Ruts. “Younger children still find their way to the library fairly easily. But we notice that halfway through the teenage years, the appetite and the pleasure of reading often make way for other things. Here in the Cube we want those young people in their own safe place motivate with a pleiade of activities not to let go of that world of stories.”
You can borrow books in the Cube, you can come to study, you can come and have a coffee and meet people. But from now on you can also come here to satisfy or develop your creative talent and in this way ignite or inspire others.
“For example, there will be spoken word, hip-hop and photography workshops and many other things,” says Laure. “And most importantly, it doesn’t just come from us. We call on young people to take matters into their own hands, to think along, to set up nice corners and to organize their own activities.”
One of those young people is Liana Eelen, an Antwerp TEW student and great literature lover who also writes reviews of young adult books on Instagram as @lianareads. “That genre has started to boom in the past year,” says Liana, who has a soft spot for the work of Neal Shusterman and Lisa van Campenhout. “Young people recommend their favorite books on social media such as Instagram and TikTok. Bookstores are setting up their own young adult sections, which are becoming increasingly successful. I heard that Laure was looking for volunteers to help put together Permeke’s young adult collection and I wanted to help with that.”
The young volunteers – there are already about twenty of them – will also organize the big launch party themselves in February. “The Cube is already opening today,” says Laure. “But we estimate that it will take some time before we can reach our target audience. During the past holiday we already promoted at the Zomerfabriek and we are going to do a tour in schools. We also profile ourselves on social media, but our main persuasiveness is simply talking to people. And in February we can organize a spectacular party.”
Laure shows us around the floors. The first is for the library collection, with a major focus on young adult fiction, but also on comics, comics and science fiction, the genres that attack the age category. There are tablets everywhere and reading areas have been set up, including a chaise longue against the glass wall of the Cube. “Here you can go into therapy with a book,” Laure laughs.
On the second floor, with the best view of De Coninckplein, is the makers’ space, where Jente Verlinden is in charge. He guides the young people who want to make things with the cutting plotter, the laser cutter, the 3D printer or the sewing machine. “You can come and work out your own creations here,” he says, “but also get to know the techniques on the basis of small assignments. Everything is possible.”