By Shlomo Maital
I love public transportation, and ride Israel’s excellent trains and buses all the time. Lately, at several bus stops, I noticed something rather strange. There were improvised book shelves, and books on them. Why? Who? When?
I discovered the answer the other day. Here is the story. Dr. Danny Shoshan, and Amit Matalon, of Technion’s Architecture Faculty, devised an experiment to see how the city and its residents interact. They placed two sets of bookshelves at bus stops in a Haifa neighborhood. They stocked them with books and monitored what happened over a 3-week period. “A miracle took place,” Shoshan says. “People took over the role of stocking and returning the books”. They then expanded the project to six more locations. The same thing happened. Technion students began to put their theses and textbooks on the shelves for sharing. In religious Orthodox neighborhoods, residents put religious books and CD’s on the shelves.
“Our motivation for the project was art,” Shoshan says. “Public space is the place to bring Art!” Similar “libraries” have been built in other Israeli cities – Tirat HaCarmel, Kfar Saba and even Tel Aviv. Others will soon be added. There have even been orders from abroad. The Mayor of Kfar Saba notes, “with minimal investment and very very creative thinking, we can make municipal libraries available to the general public.”
Innovator – why not try this in your city? Just put a few books on the bench at a bus stop. See what happens. Or in general: Put something in a public place, that arouses curiosity, interaction and conversations. This is what ‘art’ is truly meant to be.
Book ‘em Danno
First, they placed two sets of bookshelves at bus shelters in the Ziv neighborhood of Haifa, near the Technion, stocked them with books and monitored what happened over a 3-week period. “After some time, a miracle took place,” says Shoshan. “People took over the role of stocking and returning the books.”
Next, the urban researchers expanded the project to six locations including the Technion campus. “We saw that Technion students began to put their theses and textbooks on the shelves for sharing,” Shoshan explains. “In the ultra-Orthodox section of the neighborhood, the residents brought religious books and even CDs with religious content.” Matalon says, “It’s important to note that our motivation for the project was Art. Public space is the place to bring Art.”
Similar libraries were built in Tirat HaCarmel, Kfar Saba and Tel Aviv. Other cities will soon be added. “We have also had orders from abroad,” Shoshan reveals. Mayor of Kfar Saba, Yehuda Ben Hemo, said, “With minimal investment and very, very creative thinking, we can make municipal libraries accessible to the general public.”
“This project is really going viral! It works, it’s successful, and it creates additional facilities within the existing urban framework,” Shoshan explains
Kfar Saba presents: Bus stop libraries
Bus running late and you're looking for a way to pass time? Now you can borrow a book at the bus stop and return it when you get off
Blogged from YNET
At this library there are no librarians urging visitors to be quiet, and no one will try to convince you to take "War and Peace". At this Kfar Saba library you'll mainly find noisy buses, a busy street and the smell of cigarette smoke – all fitting the first library in Israel located at a bus stop.
Several weeks ago the Kfar Saba Municipality set up libraries along Weizmann Street, on both sides of the road, in the least expected place. Shelves installed on the bus stops' walls were filled with books in different languages, of various genres, including cookbooks and poetry collections.
Passengers may borrow a book while waiting for the bus, read it during the ride, and return it wherever they get off. Those who would like to finish reading the book may take it home and return it several days later.
"Residents here are deeply rooted and take an interest in culture," says Kfar Saba Mayor Yehuda Ben-Hamo. "In order to meet the residents' needs, we have launched an initiative making books more accessible to our residents and encouraging them to use public transportation as part of the agenda of a healthy and green city."
The project was initiated by Daniel Shushan and Amir Matalon, a graduate of the Technion's Faculty of Architecture, two urban artists who suggested the idea to the mayor with the aim of giving the city's residents access to books.
Residents are invited to add their own books, the municipal library fills the shelves on a daily basis, and at this stage the municipality has decided not to keep records of those who borrow the books or check whether they are returned.
"At first we asked ourselves how long it would last," says Ossi, a city resident. "But then we decided to get rid of the negative thoughts because this is a good thing which has proved itself after only one week. At the beginning of the week the shelf was full of books, throughout the week they disappeared, and suddenly there are new books."
Full story here