Nowadays, a library doesn’t rank high on a list for hippest places to go to, as (almost) everything can be accessed online. But there is something soothing about a library or a place filled with books, and for bookworms, a library may well be the the definition of heaven.

The Reading Room at Kemang is well known book cafe in Jakarta. Photo courtesy of The Reading Room/NOW!JAKARTA

Libraries have begun to improve their systems, adapting to the progress of information technology, with some supporting interactive and multi-platform access.

There are still quite a few unique libraries and book cafes in Jakarta that offer cozy surroundings for visitors to indulge in books and novels. To commemorate Library Lover’s Month this February, we have compiled a list of places worth exploring.

National Library of Indonesia
After relocating from Salemba to the area around Monas, the National Library of Indonesia is the gateway to the history and origins of Indonesia. The library primarily provides literature and books on humanity and history, as well as newer publications in both fiction and nonfiction.

The National Library of Indonesia is now housed in a stunning new building and stands tall at 126.3 meters, occupying 24 floors. Moreover, developers adapted a “green building” concept where visitors can enjoy a natural and modern atmosphere.

Near the entrance of the main building, the history of Indonesian literature is displayed in four large rooms. The Script Room, on the other hand, is a the place to go to explore learn more about Indonesia through written documents. The National Library of Indonesia has many different sections, classified from children to researchers. It alsoprovides a digital collection that can be visited online. In total, the library – both physical and digital – features a collection of a whopping one million documents, consisting of monographs, ancient scripts, audio visual, private limited collections, rare books, press archive and e-books.

Address: Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan No. 11, Senen, Gambir, Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10110

Freedom Institute Library
The Freedom Institute, which moved from Jl. Proklamasi in Central Jakarta to Wisma Bakrie in Kuningan, houses an independent library that offers around 10.000 book titles in its collection. Incorporating a modern and ethnic design, visitors can bring their laptops to finish writing their paper or do more extensive research. The Freedom Institute Library was closed for two years and has been greatly missed by its patrons, but their patience has been rewarded, as the Freedom Institute Library is now larger and has a designated area with sofas and desks. It also provides a private room, which can be used for meetings and seminars.  

Address: Wisma Bakrie, Jl. H. R. Rasuna Said No.Kav, B-1, Karet Kuningan, South Jakarta City, Jakarta 12920

The Reading Room
Since first opening its doors in Kemang, South Jakarta, The Reading Room has became a trailblazer for book cafes in the city. It’s a truly unique place, as it combines literature, ambience and food. In short, The Reading Room is a haven for book lovers who want to spend their days reading a novel over a hearty meal or cup of coffee. The numerous books at the cafe are not only for display: guests are welcome to pick them up and start reading, as long as they show their ID cards.

The Reading Room is a popular meeting place for various communities from literature to film who regularly host events on the spacious second floor. Don’t be surprised if you run into famous directors and writers here: Joko Anwar, Eka Kurniawan, Ayu Utami and Ratih Kumala have all been spotted at The Reading Room already.

Address: Jalan Kemang Timur No. 57 A-B, Jakarta Selatan, DKI Jakarta, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 12730

The Canteen at Aksara Kemang
Aksara Kemang is well known for its unique book collection that is especially interesting for book lovers that refuse to be mainstream. If you have difficulties to find imported books from foreign publishers, Aksara may be your best shot to find them. The Canteen, a quaint little cafe in a living room setting, is located above the bookstore.When you stop by at Canteen, you can grab a book from one of the shelves that are part of the cafe’s interior. 

Address:  No., Jl. Kemang Raya No.8B, RT.9/RW.1, Bangka, Mampang Prpt., Kota Jakarta Selatan, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 12730

Rintang Azhar

Rintang Azhar

Rintang is a previous staff writer for NOW! with experience in hard news and lifestyle journalism. He specialises in art, design, culture, fashion, environmental, and urban issues.