Alex Johnson takes a look at improbable libraries in his selfsame new book:

Librarians have a long history of overcoming geographic, economic and political challenges to bring the written word to an eager audience. They continue to live up to that reputation, despite the rapid and sweeping changes in how we read and share books in the 21st century.

Part of the change is architectural. Instead of the stately structure in the centre of town with which we are usually most familiar, your local library might now be anything from a pop-up to an imaginative architectural masterpiece resembling a shelf of books or the inside of an iceberg.

All these new nontraditional libraries offer far more than simple collections of books. Many function as community centres and assist their members in overcoming economic, social and geographical barriers….Other libraries come into being to meet very specific needs, such as the “story tower” built by Latvian design students as a temporary replacement for a public library that had been closed for refurbishment, or the mobile libraries in Haiti that offer reading material to people around the country following the recent series of natural disasters.

Regardless of the ultimate fate of the printed book, reports of the imminent death of the library as a physical entity seem to have been greatly exaggerated.

The simple truth is that, like Roald Dahl’s character Matilda, people like going to libraries.

boat libraryEach library boat for Lao children on the Mekong and Ou rivers carries around 1,000 titles. At stops, staff run games and children can borrow books overnight and return them before the boat moves on to another village.

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One of the top things on our list, when The Brunette and I relocated to our new home, was to get new library cards. Did that on the first weekend here…then I checked out three books and The Brunette checked out two.

Not like it’s a competition or anything…

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