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  • Rebecca Rousculp

    Sometimes mini-libraries are the only libraries. Our children's library is the only game in town in the Dominican Republic.

  • Wood Gas

    I read a bit about a fellow in Buenos Aries, I think, who redesigned an old truck into tank.
    He put bookshelves all over it and dispenses drive-by illumination. He calls his vehicle a Weapon of Mass Instruction.

  • Paul Johnson

    If food could be replaced by pills, I would find it difficult to completely give up the social activity of making and eating food, even if sometimes I did pop a pill for the sake of convenience. The same goes for printed books and e-books.

  • Paul Johnson

    Mr Anon someone bought the books in the first instance. So all is well.

  • Mr. Anon

    Free books?! This is piracy! And piracy is stealing, plain and simple. How will the author or publishing company be able to survive when people are trading books without any financial benefit in return? You might as well be downloading(stealing) books online! If this keeps up, authors will have no incentive to write books!


  • jtag

    Y'all need to also check out Ourshelves, a private sliding scale library in the Mission of San Francisco. They also have satellite collections in women's shelters and are in the process of building a parklet library. I'm a big fan.

  • Casey Caplowe

    I was just in Baltimore and discovered this place called Book Thing, which is a large garage/warehouse open on the weekends and all free books. It's amazing.

  • Jeff Nelder

    These are really interesting prototypes and I hope they experience either successful engagement or successful learnings to improve. Physical books are a durable medium...perhaps not as the current large scale commercial endeavor, but certainly as a medium for the written word. As a wealthy and privileged society, I can see how some may say that books are becoming obsolete- but guys- not everyone can afford your awesome ereader. Is physical fine art to become obsolete because one can see a picture

    • amfriedman

      Hm, last I checked, my "awesome ereader" can be acquired for the cost of a child's armload of books ($69: Then, for free, I can borrow a book from any of the 11,000 participating US libraries ( Of course, this is not yet available in all societies around the world, but neither were printed books in the days of Gutenberg. The question is -- shall we pour our time, money, and energy into forging the horizon-broadening future, or playing dress-up with a dying past?

  • amfriedman

    A koan: If a book sits in a pop-up library and there is no one there to read it, does it teach a thing?

  • amfriedman

    Using the pretense of art to create elaborate schemes for dispersing and disposing the piles and piles of a soon-to-be obsolete medium.

    • Angus McCready

      it could b argued that books are a ee bit more durable than 'puters and their

      • Angus McCready

        associated infrastructure - 2 weeks ago our community lost power and phones due to floods for 5 days -

  • Joanne Hughes Emanuele

    So happy to see creativity and innovation actively creating unique "library" space. I have discovered cool micro libraries around NYC and LA. I have been a librarian for the past 15 years. I'm currently working as a high school librarian and while our school is being renovated we have taken over the pre-existing middle school. I was limited to how much of my 15,000 book collection I could bring over opting to create a mini high school collection within the main library. My library is truly a "happening" place. Open to students, teachers, administrators, I happily run a program that houses card games, video games, conferences, classes, a place to simply "hang out", create, film, and whatever else comes along. I'm anticipating setting up an outdoor "space" in our new place, weather permitting.
    Great article, great posts too. Thank you!

    • Lindsey Smith

      Joanne, I totally agree with you! A unique space transformed into creative and innovate library is a marvelous idea. Library was one of my favorite classes in elementary school. I am happy that there are still Liberians to teach instead of a digital computer or books on tablets. What do you imagine your outdoor space looking like?

      • Joanne Hughes

        I imagine an outdoor space with lots of plants, a fountain, and comfortable seating. A space where students and teachers can talk, read, do work, eat lunch, and basically bring the library features they want to utilize out side. I work in a district on LI, NY making us weather-dependent when it comes to outdoor activities. The idea of "living libraries" is fun when combined with the science department, joining students as they study/research their topics.
        Libraries are most often reflective of the librarian, the educational and social needs of the students and the culture of the community. Regardless of location, it should provide a welcoming space for all.

        • Lindsey Smith

          That sounds perfect! Good luck and definitely share with us how the process goes!

  • lafrancememanque

    Love it! I'm a librarian and love the outdoors. I've been trying to "master plan" a way to have a library outdoors. These concepts look great

  • Kristina.Kearns

    Ourshelves is a small curated library in San Francisco that raises funds to build free libraries inside of shelters. Since opening in July 2011 it has built free libraries for a domestic violence shelter, seniors and disabled center, and a homeless shelter, so that children and adults without regular access to the public library can still have books of his and her choice.
    Ourshelves is currently working on a leave one, take one library in an abandoned newspaper kiosk downtown. We're also raising funds to build twelve more shelter libraries.
    Ourshelves members have access to advance copies of new books, personal recommendations from a knowledgeable volunteer staff and free entrance to Excerpts, a monthly literary gathering where people read five minute passages of their favorite novels and poetry. All member dues are tax-deductible and are used to build and maintain the shelter libraries. No one is turned away for lack of funds and, unlike the public library, proof of residency is not required.

    • Yasha Wallin

      Wow, thanks for sharing Kristina, sounds like an amazing organization.

  • Kristin Pedemonti

    Wonderful! You've probably also seen the Little Free Libraries popping up too. As an avid library user (I was the geek who read Every book in her Elementary School Library, former Children's Librarian and now Professional Storyteller, I <3 Libraries & Hope we always have access to REAL books. The smell of the pages, the feel in the hands. Bliss! Thank you for sharing this very Good Article!

  • shnmcd

    These small libraries and their buildings are inspirational and I look forward to more public libraries creating outdoor spaces where the people of a given community can use books and other media at their leisure. One other great example is the Library Reading Café in York, UK:

    While the internet does offer access to, well, a lot of information, I would argue a few points:

    1. While there full-text versions of books in the public domain available via Google Books, one cannot "borrow" books for free online except via actual libraries, all other methods of reading books online involve a pay wall.

    2. There is a vast difference between knowledge and information. Even amidst all that is available on the internet, the resources found there are often not vetted in any way, I would argue that the knowledge available is in the forms of video and editorial writing like blog posts -- but there is a lot more "stuff" (fluff!) out there that falls neither into information nor knowledge categories.

    3. Neil Gaiman is widely quoted as saying, "A Google search can return 10,000 results; a librarian can give you the right one." People who are knowledgable about what resources exist can trump the most powerful algorithm.

    4. SO MUCH web content is not available for free, such as back issues of newspapers, magazines, and journals -- all of which ARE free to you through your public libraries which pay subscription fees (with your tax dollars) so that you may have access to these and all kinds of information resources related to healthcare, finance, and fun content like music and movies.

  • cohendc

    All very interesting. And very Good!