Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: Tunisia

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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