Impact Journalism Day by Sparknews: A better home - No. 1

Take a book, leave a book

The process of book exchange in some way unites the citizens, as people leave notes in books and in their margins, says Ms Zeynab Jahan, a 25-year-old curator of this public bookcase.
The process of book exchange in some way unites the citizens, as people leave notes in books and in their margins, says Ms Zeynab Jahan, a 25-year-old curator of this public bookcase.PHOTO: AZERNEWS

BAKU (Azerbaijan) • Contemporary writer Lemony Snicket described the true idea of a good library when he wrote: "A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them."

A small cabinet filled with books attracts many people as they go about discovering the historical and picturesque corners of Azerbaijan's capital Baku - Icherisheher, also known here as the Old City.

Here, one can find a book of his or her interest. The cabinet has become a landmark in the city and even an attraction for many foreign tourists.

Since being set up in 2013, the cabinet has been filled with Azerbaijani publications, as well as foreign literature.

The Azerbaijan Young Foundation, Azerbaijani Student Network and Global Shapers Community Baku jointly created this simple initiative, which originates from Europe.

 

This free-for-all library is designed to serve everyone, irrespective of age or education. One can come and benefit from this brilliant opportunity without exerting excessive efforts.

The idea of this outdoor public bookcase is attractive - it is open at any time of day and in any weather. No registration or documents are needed to use this service. This unique library serves the motto: "Take a book, leave a book." Readers can grab from the free-for-all bookcase whichever book catches their eye, and leave behind any book they choose for others.

Ms Zeynab Jahan, a 25-year-old curator of this public bookcase, said "this bookcase project is necessary for Azerbaijani people".

The organisers say the project aims to inspire a young generation to read books in an extraordinary way.

This idea strengthens the culture of reading books and adds integrity to society, since the initiative encourages people to meet while exchanging their favourite books.

"The process of book exchange in some way unites the citizens, as people leave notes in books and in their margins. The most remarkable thing is that 99 per cent of the books in the cabinet are someone's books," Ms Zeynab explained.

For now, the project is the only one of its kind throughout the country and therefore is regarded as an "experimental case". What's remarkable is that people are anxiously waiting for the next bookcase to appear in the city.

Now, the organisers are working on expanding the project to other regions as well.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2016, with the headline 'Take a book, leave a book'. Print Edition | Subscribe