Tavira’s former prison becomes new library

A NEW library has been built on the site of the old prison in Tavira, and will open its doors to the general public at the beginning of September.

Costing a total of 2.2 million euros, the construction of the library has been 50 per cent funded by the State and the remaining amount by the council and community fundings. The library is located five minutes from the schools and is close to the police station.

The majority of the building has been constructed from scratch, however, following careful renovation, it has been possible to keep the prison’s original façade. Part of the prison’s interior has been transformed into a garden area and the library’s various rooms are all open plan, thus all benefiting from natural daylight. The library building was inaugurated recently by the Secretary of State for Culture, Mário Vieira de Carvalho, who applauded the building’s design created by architect Carilho da Graça, commenting: “It is great that it has been possible to transform a prison into a free space.” The new library has been named Álvaro de Campos, in homage to the great Portuguese poet and writer, Fernando Pessoa (Álvaro de Campos was one of his pseudonyms).

In a tribute to the great man, some phrases from his poetry have been included in the decoration of the rooms, serving as an inspiration to the many book lovers who will use the library. The building itself is totally complete; it now just remains for all the furniture, books and equipment to be brought in. During the ceremony, Vieira de Carvalho pointed out that this is the 137th library to be inaugurated under a programme developed by the Instituto Português do Livro e das Bibliotecas, the Portuguese institute for books and libraries, whose aim is to ensure that 80 per cent of Portugal’s boroughs have their own libraries by the year 2012. President of Tavira Câmara, Macário Correia, has described the new facility as “a work of reference in terms of patrimonial recuperation”. If it is anything like Faro’s modern library, international residents could benefit from a CD and DVD library with films in English with Portuguese subtitles, and the latest music CDs, as well as a wide choice of books – a very good reason to polish up your Portuguese!