Friday, 10 May 2019

The rise of private libraries


Shhh! Private libraries are making a quiet comeback... As public libraries suffer from budget cuts, more people are turning to fee-paying alternatives.
More at the FT
(pictured above, Leeds Library) 

Monday, 29 April 2019

The British Library installation


The British Library is a site-specific installation with a digital platform for visitors to join in the discussion. Open to the public for free as part of Tate Modern’s collection displays.
By Yinka Shonibare
Tate and The British Library Installation

Friday, 26 April 2019

Shared Lady Beetle: A Micro Movable Library for Kids

"The interior spaces for displaying items are flexibly partitioned into several smaller storage areas by plates which can be freely adjusted according to users' needs. Besides, all the partitions can also be removed, through which a complete big space will be formed. The installation can be customized based on different needs, making it versatile and "universal"... The Shared Lady Beetle, is like a "beneficial insect" walking on the "urban leaf ", which can be used as a mobile library , a stall, or a maker classroom for kids, etc."
LUO studio

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Little Free Libraries & Tiny Sheds


If you like sheds and you like books, then you will certainly enjoy Little Free Libraries & Tiny Sheds: 12 Miniature Structures You Can Build. Written by Philip Schmidt and Little Free Library and published by Cool Springs Press (£16.99/$24.99 - part of the Quarto stable who also published my Book Towns book last year), the Little Free Library movement (motto:‘Take a book, return a book’)is probably the most successful library project of the 21st century – there are now more than 80,000 in 91 countries around the world.

These handmade tiny libraries, often built to look rather like oversized bird boxes, are placed at strategic locations in neighbourhoods such as front gardens, yards and parks, but also in coffee shops and near restaurants. Anybody can remove a volume and deposit another for others to share. 

The book features full instructions detailing how to build a dozen designs ranging in size from the popular small box model to a full shed structure. Among them is the blueprint for the first Little Free Library, built by Todd Bol in 2009, who wrote the forward but sadly died shortly before this book was published. As well as information on installation and maintenance, there are also sections on how to publicise your little free library, what to stock, how to encourage community involvment, and a lovely collection of some of the most interesting around the world. It's really nicely put together, genuinely useful, and supports a great cause.


Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Writing gloves


Bookshelf was offered these rather attractive writing gloves by Literary Book Gifts to give them a test run (note: these are not my hands). They're made of cashmere knit so are extremely soft and comfortable and come in 13 colours. Obviously we can't testify to their durability as we've only had them a couple of days but apparently "cotton, polyester, and microfiber are blended in for durability" and we've no reason to disbelieve that. All in all, if you need to type and would like something to keep your hands warm that doesn't get in the way of your fingers, these could be the ideal solution. Available from Literary Book Gifts which is based in the USA but ships anywhere in the world. They also sell t-shirts (for women and men) and tote bags.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Literary Places


If you enjoyed Book Towns, then I think you'll like Literary Places by Sarah Baxter (published by White Lion which is part of the same publishing stable). It's a collection of locations around the planet associated with famous writers which would make ideal holiday spots for keen readers - such as Dublin, Soweto, and Kerala - each associated with a famous work. So for example you can read about the Mississippi River (Huckleberry Finn) or try out Cartagena (Love in the Time of Cholera).

Sarah is a very experienced travel writer and you'll have read her pieces in all the quality national dailies as well as her work in multiple Lonely Planet guides (and perhaps also in the first of this series called Inspired Traveller's Guide: Spiritual Places). It's nicely done, not too long but with plenty of food for thought and ideas for your next trip, well written, and will also encourage you to have a go at some classics you've been planning to attempt. It's also the kind of book you could take with you on holiday and read happily pool-side or in a nice little café.

Literary Places is beautifully illustrated throughout with full page colour images by the artist Amy Grimes. I particularly liked her illustrations of Spain for the Don Quixote and Ernest Hemingway chapters focusing on La Mancha and the Sierra de Guadarrama. It would be unfair to call this a coffee table book because that's often used a bit dismissively, but Amy's illustrations do really add another dimension which is often lacking in travel books.