I was in Frankfurt last week and stumbled upon one of the coolest “libraries” I have ever seen. Instead of a larger point of books, smaller distributions of bookshelves are placed around the city to make the process of getting a book into the hands of someone more effortless. There are around 7 of these encased bookshelves around the city. One can just walk up, and take a look if there is anything you would like to read inside, returning it upon completing the read.

From the sign on the side (translated best I can): ” This is a free, round the clock open library for all citizens and guests of our city. Simply take a book with you that you would like to read. Bring the book back later, or bring another book instead that you think others would like to read. Then there are always enough books for everyone here.”

I think this model should be studied more across cities in various countries. These would be fantastic placed near cafes or large concentration of office jobs that would have long lunch breaks. The effortless of obtaining a book, and joy of book discovery makes this an amazing potential. And at a time when many governments are finding ways to downsize public programs, this has a much lower overhead cost than that of a standard underutilized library building.

About pettydesign

James Petty is an American architect experiencing and contributing to the Yale School of Architecture.