A small library

1507littlelibraryI spotted a small library offering books or children’s toys on a wander near Sarpharti Park. The sign asks for a small donation to be put through the letterbox – or you can exchange a book.

It’s such a generous idea, I immediately wanted to donate the pile of books I’ve finished reading – I usually release books I no longer want into the wild via Bookcrossing.

There are “Little Free Libraries” all over the world, and although this is not registered as part of that scheme it’s a similar idea. There are five official Little Free Libraries listed in the Netherlands; Zutphen, Nijmegen, Delfgauw, and two in the Hague.


Died and Gone to Heaven

I stumbled upon a very special kind of sale in the weekend. ABC (The American Book Center) were having their “book by weight” sale.

No kidding, 5 euros for a kilo of books.

I only managed to find 820g of books, and still paid 5 euro for that, but hey, the two books new would have been about 45 euro.

One of the books is “Treasures from the Attic” the background to the Anne Frank story based on documents found in an attic. I can’t wait to read it.

It’s a weekend only thing, so you’ve missed out on Amsterdam. However next weekend the ABC in The Hague are running the same event. If you buy one kilo you’ve probably saved more than your train ticket.

Book Trade In

Calling all book lovers; do you have piles of fiction books that you’ve read and don’t want to keep for ever?

Yep, me too. Which is why I’ll be going to ABC’s trade in day next Friday, swapping fiction that I don’t want anymore for book vouchers.  Sounds like a good deal to me.

They’ll take fiction books in good condition, preferably mass market rather than niche content and they’ll pay you based on a fair resale value. It runs from 11am to 6pm.

For more information see the ABC site.

Welcome to the World Book Capital

Today Amsterdam becomes the World Book Capital for a year. There were some opening events around the city including something at the Westerkerk which had this display outside, it translates as “City full of Stories”.

I’m looking forward to the events, especially the book fair on May 18, when part of the historic centre will become a street book fair.

“Book Seeks Reader”

These billboards are up around town, promoting an exhibition of book advertisements since the seventeenth century. The exhibition runs until 1 June, 10-5 each day, at Oude Turftmarkt 129 (near Muntplein).

The ads – at least the ones in the poster – aren’t for a specific book, but rather promoting books and reading in general. The one with the cat encourages you to “give a book”, the one to the right says “holidays: time to read”

According to the official information (translation mine)

The trigger for ‘Book Seeks Reader’ is the fact that the collection of the Library and Booksellers Foundation became part of the Special Collections fifty years ago. This exhibition on the theme of propaganda and advertisements for books gives a historic overview of how the Dutch reader has been led to buy books for many years. ‘Book Seeks Reader’ is part of the year of Amsterdam as the World Capital of Books, and Book Week 2008[12-22 March].

It looks like a fun exhibition, it’s a shame it’s not featured on the world book site.

Design Signs

One of my pet design gripes is “designing for opening day”. The building looks great, everyone is congratulated, and THEN the problems start.

This seems to be the case with the new Amsterdam Public Library. It’s a building I love, I think its grand scale, light, and flow make it a great public space, and I’ve blogged about it before. but now that I’m using it I’m loving it less.

I was looking for some history books in a particular area. I found a computer terminal (there are lots dotted throughout the building, and I’ve never had any trouble finding a free one) and found the Dewey Decimal number of the subject I was looking up. Easy.

Then I went to find it on the shelves. Not so easy. The catalogue numbers do appear on the spines of the books, but they are not on any of the signage in the building. Not per floor or per shelf. What happened? Did some bright designer think they weren’t necessary?It got worse. I went into the multimedia floor to look for DVDs, it’s all streaming lines and soft blue light in there, and it’s a thoroughly modern ambiance. But there’s nowhere in the design concept for signs. Result? A helpful librarian has put these on the shelves.It’s all just bad design. No thought as to how the user will do one of the very basic functions in a library. Search.

Speaking of basic functions. The toilets are in the basement. There are no signs with that information on them either.