The Seoul Metropolitan library use to be City Hall which was built in 1926. The front of the building is a historic preservation of the old city hall with a modern twist added on. They house over 376,303 books including over 9,000 of which available in Braille. And it is possible for people who aren’t Korean citizens to check out books, you do need to have proof that you live in Korea and your ARC. Passports are not accepted. You can check out up to 5 books for a 15 day period. Braille books can be checked out for a longer time period, up to 30 days. Everything else, from DVD’s to foreign e-books can be checked out for 15 days. Except on culture day, the last Wednesday of the month. Then you can check out 10 books.
English books can be found in the Global Collection located on the 4th floor. There is a decent selection available, several book cases, of fiction as well as spaces to sit and read. There however is not much actual order to the books. While I found this copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger on a higher shelf, another of her books (that she wrote with her husband) I found on one of the lower shelves. So make sure to either have a list of what you’re looking for and check the computers to find the proper code, or give yourself time to explore.
If you are visiting in March through November on a clean air day I also highly suggest visiting the 5th floor HaneulTteul. It’s a roof garden with cute seating for you to grab your book and read.
There’s also a pretty cool view from the library Sky Yard. Note that there are two different sections. I found one that viewed the City Hall roads a little less exciting, but I loved the view from the one that looked out towards Gwanghwamun.
The Seoul Metropolitan library is closed on Mondays. Please also note that different sections of the library close at different times. The foreign section located in Global Collections is open from 9am until 6pm and can be reached at 2133-0308.
The library also hosts various events from readings to fun things for kids to do. It’s definitely worth a visit if you live in Seoul.