Which bookworm doesn't love a library? The large building, the peacefulness and, best of all, shelves filled with rows and rows of books. Although not all libraries were created equal, they fulfil one very vital purpose: they bring books and culture to people all over the world. Here's a list of the weirdest, most wonderful libraries in the world:
1. Westbury-sub-Mendip's Phone Booth Library
Locals rescued an iconic phone booth when they heard that British Telecom was about to remove it. They transformed it into a delightful tiny library, which is all run by volunteers. This phone booth library is open 24 hours a day and even has a light to allow you to browse through the books in the middle of the night. There are about 100 books, DVDs and CDs, which all come from the private collections of locals. They bring books that they have already read and then swap them for ones that they still wanted to read. Volunteers will stop by periodically to check which books are moving and then ship the books that were read the most off to a local charity shop, only to replace it with new books. Since then, plenty of other phone box libraries have sprung up all over England.
2. The Weapon of Mass Instruction Library
In Argentina, the Ford Falcon has a dark history. The vehicle was used for anti-communist death squads in the country's junta dictatorship era by both the secret police and the army. Which is why artist Raul Lemesoff decided to transform the vehicle from a symbol of fear into something beautiful. Lemesoff drives his mobile library through the streets of all kinds of small towns and other areas where people don't have access to a traditional public library. He is often seen pulling up beside bikers and pedestrians in his awe-inspiring tank-shaped library, offering them their pick of the 900 books that were somehow given a place in the vehicle's frame.
3. The Black Sea Beach Library
Nothing says "summer vacation" like sun, sea, sand and a good storybook, which is exactly why Herman Kompernas decided to build a library right on the beach. The library is quite extensive: it offers holiday goers who visit the Bulgarian Black Sea resort of Albena over 2,500 books in ten different languages. Guests can borrow the books at no cost, as long as they also leave their own (finished) holiday reads behind for others.
4. Kenya's Camel Library
The job of a librarian in some parts of Kenya is anything but sitting in a stuffy building filled with books. Here the Kenya National Library Service has been sending a library caravan consisting of nine camels out to remote nomadic communities since 1985. Literacy rates in these communities are often very low, because people simply don't have access to reading materials. The camels get to carry all of the books and the librarians' gear as they move through the desert to serve the community. This library program serves between 5,000 and 6,000 people.
5. Tiny Free Libraries
Micro-libraries are sprouting up everywhere, which is a good thing - it is a brilliant idea. Todd Bol started the trend in 2009 when he put up a little wooden house in the front of his yard in honor of his late mother. He stuffed the structure with books and put up a sign that invites people to take a book or leave one there. Now there are more than 6,000 of these micro-libraries across the world.
6. Vending Machine Libraries
Book vending machines are nothing new, but they are now also gaining in popularity as libraries, because they are accessible 24 hours a day. If you feel like a new read after midnight - do not despair, machinated libraries are popping up everywhere: at train stations, on the streets and in shopping centers. They are easy to use and very convenient - in Beijing, these machines account for close to 32% of the total amount of books borrowed.
7. Books on a Bus
In Brazil, a bus collector, Antonio da Conceição Ferreira, has started a mini-library on the public bus he rides and it has been going strong for 11 years now. A small book shelf was installed inside the bus, carrying about 15 titles. Initially, Antonio used to write down the name of every passenger who takes out a book, but at this stage he doesn't care whether people actually return the books or not. He just wants them to pass them on. Antonio dreams of expanding the project to all bus lines in Brazil.
8. The Donkey-Library
Camels aren't the only animals burdened with bringing literature to people - Alfa and Beto are two very popular library donkeys who bring books and joy to many children. Biblioburro is run by Luis Soriano in his spare time. He loads the donkeys with lots of books and then travels to remote villages in rural Colombia - sometimes up to four hours away. His travels are often hazardous and Soriano has had quite a couple of adventures on the road, such as breaking his leg after falling from a donkey and getting tied up by bandits. Once he gets to the town, he reads to the kids, loans them books and even helps them with their homework. Biblioburro has, so far, brought the love of books to about 4,000 kids.
9. An Open Garden Library
The Levinski Garden Library was created to serve migrant workers and refugees in Israel. This outdoor library offers books in 15 languages and is situated in a Tel Aviv park. The library doesn't have any doors, guards or walls. The 3,500 books are displayed on illuminated shelves - a long one for adults and a shorter one for children. The library is open at night to welcome visitors under its large canopy to give them shelter while they relax and read. The books, instead of being arranged by the genre, Dewey Decimal system or author name, are arranged by the emotions they evoke. Every time someone reads a book, she has to describe it as boring, bizarre, exciting, sentimental, amusing or inspiring. The emotions are all color coded and the reader's response is also recorded in the form of colored tape. Books are shelved according to the most recent reaction from readers. As the books move between the shelves, they carry with them an emotional history.
10. The Book Boat that Floats the Fjords
In Norway, many small communities that live on islands in the fjords are virtually isolated from the world in winter. These communities are too small to each have their own library, so when the inhabitants of the Hordaland county was offered a book boat in 1959, Epos was born. Nowadays, the boat travels to 250 small hamlets across Norway, bringing books, culture and entertainment to the people. Kids are eagerly anticipating the boat's arrival every time it is due to make a stop in their town and lending figures show that this is indeed a very popular library. Epos has over 4000 books and audio books and also comes with a captain, a couple librarians, a cook and one or two entertainers. Entertainment could be in the form of clowns, puppet shows, circus acts and visits from writers.