Boats, camels, phone boxes, rail stations, hotels, pre-fabs, pop-ups, pubs, people’s palaces and your own back garden – welcome to the libraries of the future! From the rise of the egalitarian Little Free Library movement (motto: ‘Take a book, return a book’) to the growth in luxury hotel libraries, Alex Johnson – whose parents were both librarians – maps out the history and future of the 21st-century library revolution, each chapter consisting of a brief essay followed by illustrated project profiles.
Whether by bike in Chicago or by donkey in Colombia, librarians all over the world are coming up with astonishingly ingenious ways of ensuring their books reach the people who need them. Many of these new libraries function as community centres, and assist their members in overcoming economic, social and political barriers. Others provide an unexpected dose of culture for travellers and commuters – or even prisoners. Elsewhere, architects are designing monumental public libraries without walls, and prefabricated home libraries that can be assembled in an ordinary back garden. Whether you’re at an airport, a park, a café or in the wilds, you can still find just the right book – all for free.