Good Reading : May 2015
COFFEE TABLE LIBRARIES UNLEASHED A library doesn’t have to be a dreary concrete box, as these marvellous examples of inspired ideas and dazzling library architecture in Improbable Libraries show. If your idea of a typical library is a box that looks as if it was designed by a bunch of bureaucrats from a Soviet-era commissariat, then you haven’t seen the innovative ways that books can be shared in the new book Improbable Libraries. Books, of course, are the most important parts of a library. But ideally the building in which the books are housed will fascinate and intrigue us and lure us inside. The libraries in this book undoubtedly have the power of allure: the library in Singapore that looks like a tree house; the pub librar ies of Cornwall; the librar ies housed in static trams in Bulgaria and Brazil; and pop-up libraries on beaches from Tel Aviv to Bondi. But a library doesn’t have to be a building. There are the boat libraries of Laos and Finland; the libraries in developing countries that are borne by elephants, mules, camels or donkeys; and tiny libraries for the homeless that perch on a bicycle or a rickshaw. One of our favourites, however, is the Weapon of Mass Instruction, a library housed inside a military-surplus vehicle The Bookbike, operated by Pima County Public Library in Tucson, Arizona, has many different regular stopping points, including farmers’ markets, women’s shelters and a soup kitchen. Improbable Libraries by Alex Johnson is published by Thames and Hudson, rrp $35.00.