Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: Melbourne

A Library in A Taxi ?

“Fairly small, up on a pole, books inside, and saying, ‘Take A Book – Leave A Book’…”—that’s a quote from a post I did about Little Free Libraries.

While they can be almost anywhere, I haven’t yet heard of one in a taxi…

And, from an older post called All About Libraries, there’s this word history for “Library”:

place for books, late 14c., from Anglo-French librarie, Old French librairie “collection of books” (14c.), noun use of adj. librarius “concerning books,” from Latin librarium “chest for books,” from liber (genitive libri) “book, paper, parchment,” originally “the inner bark of trees,” probably a derivative of PIE root *leub(h)- “to strip, to peel” (see “leaf”). The equivalent word in most Romance languages now means “bookseller’s shop.” Old English had bochord, literally “book hoard.”

So, a “place for books”, a “collection of books”, and “book hoard” all seem to allow libraries to exist in taxis; and, they already do in the city of Tunis, capital of Tunisia.

Quartz has an article called, Tunisians are being Encouraged to Read by Turning Taxis into Libraries.

Here are just a few excerpts:

“Scattered on the seats and lining the dashboard are slim volumes of poetry, fat novels, and psychology books. Stuck on a side door is a decal that says, ‘Attention: This Taxi Contains a Book.’”

It’s explained that the tag-line on the decal is from the book-sharing platform, YallaRead.

And, concerning reading in Tunisia:

“More than 80% of the adult population is literate, and many Tunisians are fluent in both Arabic and French. But 75% of households have no literary material aside from the Qur’an or newspapers, and only 18% of Tunisians bought a book in the past year.”

There’s also this to consider:

“YallaRead’s 24-year-old cofounder, Ahmed Hadhri, thinks Tunisians are abandoning books in favor of time online, a cheaper option. ‘Books in Tunisia are expensive and unavailable’, he says. ‘There isn’t Amazon, and we don’t find a lot of books in bookshops—people are obliged to ask their friends abroad to make purchases.’”

A bit more about YallaRead and initiatives in other countries:

“Hadhri launched YallaRead last spring; the platform lets readers post the contents of their personal libraries online and meet up with other bookworms. It follows in the footsteps of programs like Australia’s Books on the Rail, which has left 300 books on trains, buses, and trams in Melbourne. Last year, book-wielding commuters in one Romanian city were given a free bus ride.”

And, finally:

“More than 16,000 cabs serve greater Tunis’ 2.5 million residents, according to the ministry of transport. YallaRead has placed books in Arabic, French, and English; ranging from poetry to self-help; in five taxis so far. The only rule is no religious books, Hadhri says. YallaRead is actively seeking funding and book donations so they can expand to all cabs in Tunis.”

Anyone out there ever been in a taxi with a library?

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Global Cities of Literature Network

Many people think the United Nations does nothing for World Peace.

Still, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization—UNESCO—instituted the Creative Cities Network with awards in the categories of Literature, Film, Music, Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Media Arts, and Gastronomy.

From their site:

“A network of creative cities, working together towards a common mission for cultural diversity and sustainable urban development.

“Member cities are recognised as:

  • ‘Creative hubs’ that promote socio-economic and cultural development in both the developed and the developing world through creative industries
  • ‘Socio-cultural clusters’ connecting socio-culturally diverse communities to create a healthy urban environment.

“The Network aims at developing international cooperation among cities and encouraging them to drive joint development partnerships in line with UNESCO’s global priorities of ‘culture and development’ and ‘sustainable development’.”

The first City of Literature was Edinburgh, Scotland in 2004.

In 2008, Melbourne, Australia and Iowa City, USA became Cities of Literature.

Dublin, Ireland received the award in 2010 and Reykjavik, Iceland in 2011.

And, just this month, Norwich, England was added to the Network.

And, to underscore how these cities are working to further Global Peace through Literature, here is their description (with my underlined emphases):

“UNESCO Cities of Literature work together to build strong global partnerships: encouraging literary exchanges, creating cross-cultural initiatives and developing local, national and international literary links. Each City will also be dedicated to pursuing excellence in literature on a local level, engaging citizens in a dynamic culture of words.”
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