Two weeks ago I opened a library in Rotterdam. Or rather, a Reading Room. In a reaction to the closing of the public library we, residents of Rotterdam West, decided it was time to take action. But not by protesting, but by creating something else, something new, hey even something better (see earlier post here and here). So now we are open 5 days a week from 10 till 8, and all based on the voluntary participation of a lot of people from the neighbourhood.
Part of the reason I’m involved in, is because I have been inspired by the many examples I came across in the last two years of people-led libraries from around the world. They are part of a growing number of examples of people-led initiatives in many different places building community in exciting, collaborative ways such as The Uni Project (New York) and the Truly Public Library (Manila).
But hang on, people-led you say? Wasn’t there a project which tries to showcase people-led initiatives from around the world creating communities? You are right and it is called the Community Lover’s Guide to the Universe. A collaborative effort from voluntary editors in over 60 city to showcase the many different ways in which people create communities. Next to geographic editions, we have topic-related editions, such as those on empty shops and food which should come out this year.
Since we think libraries are one of those topics around which people also create great new initiatives, we have decided it is time to make a Community Lover’s Guide on Libraries. The ‘we’ involved in editing this particular edition are Tessy Britton, Laura Billings, Tim Ahrensbach, Jerry Stein and Maurice Specht. Because we all think there is a lot of exciting stuff happening and we see great potential in other places for such initiatives we want to get it out as soon as possible.
We have drawn up a list of potential chapters and are sending out invitations to them as we speak. But we are always looking for new, unknown examples, so if you know of any examples of people-led libraries you think should be added to this particular book, please get in contact with any of us.
A bit more background on this particular issue can be found on a blog post I wrote on Shareable last October. We weren’t able to stick to the initial timeframe we mentioned there, but are now aiming to publish by the end of April.