Book Cabinets: The fluctuating libraries

I like libraries, they always give me a feeling of security. Maybe this is because all those books are stored there, so I know the thoughts and words of thousands of people, some of them hundreds of years old don’t get lost. It is a place of preservation, like a museum but even better. Better because you are allowed to take most of the treasures home with you for a short period of time. Libraries give me a feeling of steadiness and stability in a modern world where so many things change so quickly.

About two decades ago, the town where I currently live in introduced a concept that combines the thought of storing books with the affinity of change in the modern world. The materialisation of this concept is called Book Cabinets and you can find them all over town. They are brilliant! They are like small libraries that you don’t need a card for to check out books. All you do is go to a cabinet near you, take as many books as you like and replace them with the same amount of books. So, every time you go there, the content of the book cabinet has changed. As far as I know, the book cabinets are a result of something that had happened also about two decades ago: People started leaving books they didn’t want anymore behind on park benches. Because most people are well-behaved here, the majority of the left behind books were brought to the lost property office until the city council realised there was some kind of pattern emerging. Plus, books tend to get wet when it’s raining. So, the book cabinets were set up and now people know where to go when they want new brain food but don’t want to or can’t spend any money. Today, there are book cabinets all over Germany and they are even starting to spread out into other countries. Book cabinets are also great when you’re in the park or on your way to the pool and you forgot your book. If you don’t have a book with you to put into the cabinet, just bring back the book you took or add one later. It’s called the Cabinet-Etiquette.


That’s the cabinet near the flat where I live! Image found on this blog (it’s in German! about local politics and stuff)

Book Cabinets come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are just ordinary old book shelves, sometimes telephone boxes are transformed into book boxes. Sometimes it’s an old caravan, sometimes an old fridge. (All images found on