Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why Not Public Bookshelves?

Something is happening in Germany...something that I would love to see spread to this country. I understand what a poor world economy is doing to pretty much all of us. Money is tight for individuals and for government entities at all levels. But with all the money being printed and thrown at the problem, especially in this country, why not throw a few bucks at something that might actually raise the morale of those of us at the bottom of the food chain. How about some "public bookshelves," all based on the honor system, that anyone can use? According to the Washington Post, this is how they do it in Germany:
“This project is aimed at everyone who likes to read — without regard to age or education. It is open for everybody,” Michael Aubermann, one of the organizers of the free book exchange in the city of Cologne, told The Associated Press.
The western city’s latest public shelf, a €5,000 ($6,883) steel bookcase with acrylic glass doors, was put up two weeks ago next to Bayenturm, one of the city’s medieval towers. It is the fourth free shelf that Aubermann’s group, the Cologne Citizen’s Foundation, has placed outside; there are two more inside local Ikea outlets.
Each shelf holds around 200 books and it takes about six weeks for a complete turnover, with all the old titles replaced by new ones...
So far, the Cologne book group has had few problems with vandalism or other kinds of abuse, though a used-book seller once scooped up every volume on a shelf to sell at a flea market. Another time the shelves kept getting stacked with material from a religious group.
“We made sure to get rid of that stuff as quickly as possible,” Aubermann said. “Propaganda is the only kind of literature we do not allow here, whether it is right-wing, racist or proselytizing.”
The book cases are like small treasure chests with an eclectic mix of anything from fiction to obscure self-help, travel guides or crime novels.

Read the whole article over at the Post for more details and anecdotal color.  I suppose that vandalism and theft would be a constant threat but if it works in Germany (and Portugal), why not give it a shot here?  Pretty cool...


  1. What a great idea! I have plenty of books that I could add to a public bookshelf. Usually, I donate to an assisted living home and to the library since most books are for a couple of hours entertainment and will never be reread.

  2. Some of the bookshelves in the picture look pretty nice, Jenclair. I wonder how they weather-proof those things?

  3. Have you seen these called Little Free Library: