I like the community bookcase idea

A friend sent this link to a community bookcase with more explanation here (Google translated). I’ve seen these in a few places including my local laundromat. They seem to tend to come to equilibrium with a hapless collection of religious texts, romance novels and old scifi. Luckily for me, I like scifi, but since I rarely go into the laundromat expecting to encounter a community bookcase, I rarely have anything to offer.

7 thoughts on “I like the community bookcase idea

  1. We had one, not so lovely, in the Pitt Stop (our local as station, general store, post office). Even obsolete text books disappeared from the shelf (perhaps for fire starter?). At the moment the shelf is empty, but we re stock it with left overs from the book sale.

    We also have a take one leave one book exchange inside the library for donated paperbacks that we don’t keep for our collection. It’s especially nice for out of towners who can take a half finished book with them and not worry about returning it.

  2. This reminds me of two things:

    A previous apartment building I lived in had a library of sorts in the laundry room. There was a large collection of books donated by previous tenants, and it was a “Take a book, leave a book” system. There were of course a bunch of romance and sci-fi paperbacks, but also some interesting old cookbooks, textbooks, and reference books, some really unexpected tihngs.

    I’m a new MSLIS student and in my intro class we recently read an oral history of Mildred B Harrison, a librarian in Alabama. One thing she mentioned that I found fascinating was the fact that early on portions of a community library collection were housed in people’s homes, grocery stores, etc. and that the librarians would rotate the collection from one building to another every so often.

  3. There was a fantastic community bookcase in the International Center of the small town in Japan where I used to live. Yeah, lots of romance and sci-fi, but also lots of John Steinbeck and other good stuff.

  4. @Melanie: in library school, I wrote a paper about the idea of a “community” library, where books had no due dates. People checked them out and just kept them until the next person wanted it – then the first patron was notified they needed to return it. I thought it’d be a great way to allow a library to have a much larger collection than the physical building would permit, but my teacher thought it would never work.

    But I really like the idea of housing parts of the collections in various locations – it seems like a great way to integrate the library into the fabric of the community.

  5. I used to be a teacher in an elementary school. Our staff was full of interesting women and we had a fantastic community bookshelf. Some of it was old teaching books — what do you do with management books from your first grad school class? It was a good place to check for professional reference.

    But it was also a good place to find better fiction and nonfiction. I ended up picking up a lot from that shelf that I would never have chosen on my own and ended up really enjoying. Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep comes to mind.

  6. there’s one at my neighborhood coffee shop that I patronize regularly, both taking and giving books.

  7. A resort my wife and I often go to in the Dominican Republic has a community bookshelf by the pool filled with paperbacks and magazines from all across Europe and N. America. Ever since the first time we vacationed there we have made a point of bringing comics, books and magazines that we intend to leave behind once we have read them. We always felt a little joy when we would see someone reading something we placed on the shelf.

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