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5 Cool libraries around the world


September 8th is National Literacy Day – a day to celebrate the importance of reading. When it comes to finding an interesting book, a visit to the library is always a great place to start. In honour of Literacy Day, let’s visit some of the more unusual libraries of the world.

1. Kansas City Library

A building made of ginormous books

Photo by Caleb Zahnd licensed CC BY 2.0

You’ll spot books before you even walk through the doors of this library. That’s because one of its outside walls is designed to look like a huge bookshelf. The shelf features 22 books lined up neatly with their spines facing outwards. This book wall, which is called “The Community Bookshelf,” stands about two storeys high. It was created in 2003, and the books chosen to appear on the wall were suggested by local readers. As for the books that have a place on the shelf, you’ll find a variety of titles for all ages, including: Winnie the Pooh, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.

2. Albena Beach Library

A library on the beach!

NurPhoto/Corbis via Getty Images

Many people like to read a book as they relax on the beach. But what happens when you forget to bring one along? At a beach in Albena, Bulgaria, that’s no problem at all. There are three libraries right on the beach where you can take out a book or two. The first library opened in 2013. But it was so successful that two more were eventually set up. The three libraries have more than 6,000 books in 15 languages. There are no librarians on site. So readers simply choose a book and are asked to return it once they’ve finished reading it. They can also leave their own books behind on the shelves, so future visitors can borrow them when they’re in need of a beach read.

3. Liyuan Library

A library that is covered in twigs to filter light.

Photo by ForgeMind Archimedia licensed CC BY 2.0

This library in a small Chinese village is covered in 40,000 twigs. The building, which opened in 2011, has a steel frame that’s wrapped in glass. The twigs have been set in place over this glass structure. While they make the library lovely to look at, the twigs are also useful. They filter the sun, allowing plenty of light to stream into the library so visitors can happily read away. In fact, the twigs let in enough light that there’s no need for any electricity in the building.

4. Berlin Tree Library

A tree on a sidewalk that has windows to hold books.

Photo by Mace Ojala licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

This unique library can be found waiting for visitors along a sidewalk in Berlin. Officially known as the Book Forest, it was built from fallen trees in 2006. Five trees were bolted together and shelves were carved into each trunk to create the library. To protect the books from bad weather, each shelf has a plastic flap to cover it. The library can hold up to 100 books at a time, and people are welcome to take a book or leave one if they’d like. While the library was only supposed to remain on the sidewalk for two years, it’s been such a hit that it is still in place to this day.

5. Library Vending Machines

Vending machine for books!

Photo by by Joe Gratz licensed CC BY-NC 2.0

You may have used a vending machine to grab a snack or drink. But library vending machines full of books are popping up in cities across Canada, the U.S, Europe, and Asia. Unlike a library, these machines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That makes it easy for readers to choose a book no matter the time of day. In most cases, you simply insert your library card into the machine, select a book, and then take your selection with you. A nearby drop box lets you return your book when you’re finished with it. In some cities, library vending machines have even been placed at busy train stations. Readers can borrow a book for their ride and return it when they reach their stop.