Recently I came across an amazing article about floating libraries and bookshops around the world. I had written a piece for the ILN previously about Traveling Libraries, but this type caught me by surprise. A delightful surprise at that!
Using boats as a means of transportation of material to patrons who have limited access to libraries or simply finding new uses for these wonderful water vessels, numerous countries have repurposed these modes of transportation into houses of books. Patrons can visit and enjoy the experience of being on the water, which in and of itself is relaxing for most people, while at the same time browsing through shelves to find items they are interested in.
In many ways, these are similar to other mobile libraries. Rather than using a car or bus to transport the material to users, the ingenious creators of these spaces use the water as a way to reach out to their readers as well as give them a very unique experience.
These floating wonders span the globe: from France to the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, the United States, and rural Laos. In rural Laos “many children still don’t have access to books. That’s why a non-profit organization Community Learning International (CLI) launched two library boats that visit 100 villages along the Mekong River.” On the day the boat arrives, the students are released from class so they are able to spend the day reading. They are allowed to take the books home overnight, and they are due back in the morning prior to the boat departing.
What an amazing way to reclaim a wonderful means of transportation – even if the boat simply stays in port or moves from location to location to give access to those who would otherwise not necessarily have the joy of discovering books and other treasures found among the shelves.
I encourage you to scroll through the entire article so you can see photos of each of the libraries and bookshops, as well as read how they are offering a very unique service. I know they are something I would love to visit and it is very inspirational to see how other librarians and book lovers are creating even more distinctive ways in which to serve their patrons.
– Molly Brown, ILN Content Officer