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.
However, it’s interesting to see libraries in places where readers really need them.
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...
Micro libraries that reach inaccessible communities are not a new idea.
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?
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.
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.
"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
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.
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.