In the United States newspapers often post lists of books to read during summer holidays as though everyone will be able to take time to lie on a beach and read for hours.
For many getting that special book is as easy as heading to Amazon (amazon.com), typing in the name of the book desired and clicking on a link and instantly the book arrives. For others, it’s a matter of finding a brick and mortar library, discovering when its open and heading to the nearest one.
Around the world it isn’t always that easy. But thanks to dedicated people – librarians, artists, interested citizens, special, unusual libraries serve people around the world. According author Alex Johnson, these hidden gems are “often mobile, creative and community driven.” His new book Improbable Libraries: A Visual Journey to the World’s Most Unusual Libraries highlights books being delivered to readers today by camel (Mongolia), elephants (Laos) and decades ago by horse drawn vehicles (US).
The book is filled with stunning photos that include a library for deaf children in Burundi, a refrigerator (library) in New Zealand and Ford Falcon in Argentina that looks like an ancient tank covered in books. Even that is a library.
For me the book is not just a statement about the continued interest and value of traditional printed books. Rather, it also is a reminder of extraordinary work people do to contribute to the lives of their friends, neighbors, and strangers. That the world still has bright spots no matter how dire the daily headlines.
What will you read this summer and where will you find it?