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Books as a social link. (updated) January 26, 2009

Posted by ieva in Uncategorized.
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I think buying books is one of the greatest way to spend your money. And books can also bring people together in a way that centuries, your age or cultural background have no importance any more.

I’m working on a project for a library, the aim is to make books function as a social link between people. So, I was interested to look around at other inspiring examples. Here are some of what I found:

LibraryThing.
When we visit somebody’s house, we are often tempted to judge people by what the person reads. The site gives an opportunity to look inside people’s bookshelves and to exhibit your own online.

BookCrossing
BookCrossing is a way to share our books, clear the shelves, and conserve precious resources of the Earth at the same time. A book registered on BookCrossing is ready for adventure.

Over 700 000 people in more than 130 countries share their passion for books with BookCrossing.They help to make the whole world a library and share the joy of literacy. A book with BookCrossing sticker can be left anywhere and found by anyone. The journeys of the books are tracked online.

LibriVox
“Acoustical liberation of books in public domain.”
One can listen to his favorite book or volunteer to read a chapter of another favorite. Nearly 2000 titles are available for downloading.

Mediamatic library in Amsterdam.

Mediamatic gave away all its books. “We distributed our library in protest to skimpy Dutch art funding policy making practices. The way it’s going, we are not able to take care of our library ourselves anymore. So we’ve asked our audience to take over the responsibility.”

All members of the mediamatic.net community can pick up their favorite books for free. You just have to publish the ownership on your profile alongside a picture and a small description. And promise that you will always honor a lending request from another community member.

Underground literature.
In a program in Mexico City, free books are being given out in the subway. The stories and poems in the books are short enough to finish on the average subway ride; readers drop the books off as they leave the Metro. Mexican authors are payed about 300 U.S.$ for use of their works, but their real payement is the increasing interest in their writing. The program gets books into the hands of those Mexicans who can’t normally afford to buy them. And transit officials also hope that crime in the system might decrease if crooks are busy reading rather than picking the pockets of fellow riders.

Internet bookmobile.
For six moths in 2004, a four-wheel-drive diesel van bounced around the back roads of rural Uganda loaded with a PC, a laser printer, a paper cutter, and a hot-melt-glue binding machine. The Digital Bookmobile, put more than 6000 books into schools, homes and libraries in an impoverished area of Uganda.
The books came primarily from the public domain collections on the Internet Archive, a nonprofit online library established to preserve cultural artifacts and data, as media becomes more predominantly digital. The internet Archive boosts some 30000 texts, witch are free for all users to view, download and print.
IN addition, the project funded a book binding station ant two scanning stations at the National Library offices in Kampala, where staff could scan in educational materials about AIDS, farming, adult literacy and other topics for the bookmobile to print.
While the pilot project was largely a success, it run into some obstacles along the way. Despite enthusiasm among librarians and many teachers, the current public school curriculum in Uganda places little value on reading. the Bookmobile was most useful at schools where teachers took it upon themselves to initiate special reading periods. Local politics was another challenge. Not all government officials were supportive of providing greater access to public documents; some see such access as a threat. However, technological barriers- especially the cost of printer toner, glue binding strips, and equipment repairs- could hamper the long-term viability of any Bookmobile.
Despite these challenges, the concept is spreading. Since the 2004 pilot, Digital Bookmobiles have appeared in Ghana, India and Egypt.

“The first and greatest tool we have for learning about ourselves and the world around us comes from stories. Stories are the building blocks of culture.” (NAB)

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