Monday, November 12, 2007

Bus Stop Libraries

How about a library at a bus stop?

The Spectacled Bear writes about how it's actually a reality on route W3 Norte in Brasilia:
The idea is simple: a stall at the bus stop where anyone, whether waiting for a bus or not, can borrow books for free. The idea came from the fact that many Brazilians do not have easy access to books. Municipal libraries in Brazil are rare, and when they do exist, book enthusiasts must battle through bureaucracy in order to use them.

The new bus stop libraries involve almost no paperwork. During the day a member of staff notes down the details of borrowed books and after 6pm the borrower can simply take a book and leave a note with contact details. Books are available 24 hours a day, there are no due dates, no charges for borrowing and no fines.
The project was set up by Luiz Amorim, and his story is an inspiration to those of us who fight the corner for books. Originally from Bahia, he arrived in Brasilia as a 12 year old in 1973:
He was a shoeshine boy before he moved into the back room of a small butcher’s shop and began work as an assistant. He taught himself to read and fell in love with books. In 1994 the owners sold up, Luiz bought the business, and set up the world’s first library in a butcher’s shop. In his first year as owner, he put a shelf of books next to the meat counter and allowed customers to borrow the books for free, with no bureaucracy involved. The library grew and grew with donations, and after a few years there were over a thousand books next to the meat counter. The library was then closed down for breaking health and safety regulations. Amorim pursued sponsors and in 2002 opened his library in another building. The space became a cultural centre, which now hosts Saraus, readings and other literary events.
I actually found this story via Global Voices Online and via Facebook's upgraded Blog Friends feature (which is still undergoing Beta testing). The Spectacled Bear is written by Sarah Kersley who realised that it was near impossible to find news about Brazilian books and writing in English on the internet.


animah said...

"The library was then closed down for breaking health and safety regulations".
Hmmm. Books should come with a health and safety warning: This book is hazardous to your health.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you miss your bus if the book got too absorbing ?

Bonnie Jacobs said...

What a concept! I love it. LOL, Animah, for "This book is hazardous to your health." Literacy is so important that there ought to be some kind of an exception for free books.

Sharon, will you be able to read along with the Book Buddies in November or December? Are you able to get the books? Simrit in New Delhi has a copy of The Boy in Striped Pajamas, but I don't know if it is available in Malaysia. Let us know what you would like to read. Post something about the books you read.