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Libraries everywhere

Libraries of one kind and another seem to be popping up everywhere. They are creative reactions to library closures and lack of funds and also new routes and locations for book sharing.

It’s strong evidence that the idea of the library is fundamental to our cultural life. The reading community in many towns and cities are finding original ways to share books. Perhaps the success of the e-book has had the unexpected benefit of releasing more real books from bookshelves everywhere so they can be more widely shared.

Above: We’ve already seen libraries set up in phone boxes, in New York (left) and the UK (right) and the social networking book exchange (centre) has been ‘changing the world one book at a time’ for more than 11 years now.

However, it’s interesting to see libraries in places where readers really need them.

Library at the airport
In an airport
Library in the Metro
In the Metro
Library on Bondi beach
Although this was a furniture marketing exercise, it’s interesting that a bookcase, when filled with books, automatically becomes a library, wherever it's located ...

Vending machines that loan and return books are being tried out by libraries to make lending books available 24/7. The problem with them is that you can only pick from the covers that you can see...

Library vending machine in China
Here’s one in China
Library vending machine in Toronto
and one that’s a little more reader-friendly from Toronto
A whole new approach to self-service in libraries
some are in libraries – a whole new approach to self-service

Micro libraries that reach inaccessible communities are not a new idea.

Lighthouse micro-library
They once circulated in lighthouses (when they were manned)
Travelling library - by donkey
small libraries still travel – this one on a donkey
In the US, pop up libraries are occurring on street corners
In the US, pop up libraries are occurring on street corners
Little Free Libraries are being set up all over the world
Little Free Libraries are being set up all over the world
In New York, instant, guerrilla installations are set up by readers themselves
In New York, instant, guerrilla installations are set up by readers themselves
Whole libraries have been collborative pop-up events that occupy vacant buildings
Whole libraries have been collaborative pop-up events that occupy vacant buildings
In the UK students at the London College of Fashion used an empty shop to start a Book Exchange
In the UK students at the London College of Fashion used an empty shop to start a Book Exchange
And a new library space for creative readers and writers to meet.
And a new library space for creative readers and writers to meet.
A pub in Ripon now houses books from the axed mobile libraries
A pub in Ripon now houses books from the axed mobile libraries
And if you are fed up with lending books to friends that are never returned, you can even  operate a DIY library from your own bookshelves
And if you are fed up with lending books to friends that are never returned, you can even operate a DIY library from your own bookshelves

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Related Resources

Book art and libraries

Libraries are the place where ideas begin. Many of the best ideas, artistic leaps, inventions and breakthroughs have been inspired by the contents of public libraries and yet, like many of the vital contributions that the library makes to the wider community, the effect is unseen so how could that link be made visible?

Finding a good read

Amazon’s customer reviews and suggestions are widely used and can be quite helpful if taken in balance. However, because of the way people often make book purchases, the adjacencies (people who bought this also bought….) don’t always reflect personal reading tastes.

Big Art

Public art is often commissioned for public libraries. Large library buildings offer the urban space to make a big statement at the entrance or in the foyer. The art has to live up to the expectations of the City – they are very prestigious and very visible.

Grown up pop ups

"Mechanical books should look like ordinary books. Their success is to be measured by the ingenuity with which their bookish format conceals unbookish characteristics." - Iona and Peter Opie

Pushing the book cart

Library book trolleys - book carts in the US – come in a variety of styles but the majority do one thing but nothing much else. Great for moving a load of books from A to B – they are large, cumbersome and inflexible when not in use.

Eau de library. What is the smell of your library?

Readers often say that they love the scent of old books. "A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness” is how an international team of chemists describes the particular smell of decaying tomes.