(Book Review) Improbable Libraries by Alex Johnson

By David Nilsen

Journalist Alex Johnson, son of two librarians, has just published an entertaining new book highlighting a variety of unusual libraries around the world. Improbable Libraries: A Visual Journey of the World’s Most Unusual Libraries (University of Chicago Press, 2015) takes readers on a photographic tour of these book repositories. Johnson talks about the role libraries have historically played in their communities, and how libraries big and small are adapting to continue to meet the needs of readers in the twenty-first century.

Some libraries, like The People’s Library of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City, are temporary and serve a specific purpose for a period of time. Sadly, this library was destroyed b a police raid, but has inspired others like it around the world. Photo credit David Shankbone.
This is just one part of the children’s library and entertainment structure built fur a resort in Thailand. The complex is built entirely of bamboo and river red gum wood, and features a net and a cozy suspended pod for reading. Photo credit Boris Zeisser/24H-architecture.
The well-known Biblioburro, a small library that travels on the back of a donkey. Biblioburro is the lovechild of school teacher Luis Soriano. Luis travels to remote villages in Colombia to read and lend books to children. Photo credit Luis Soriano.
Little Free Libraries have begun popping up all over the place in large cities and small towns alike. This one is from Houston, Texas. Users at these libraries are encourages to bring books to swap when they take a new one, but it isn’t required. Photo credit Little Free Library.
This home library in a house in Korea features steps for sitting and a slide for children and adults. Photo credit Huh Juneul.


This library on a boat sails to remote villages in Norway during the long winter months when the communities are largely cut off from the outside world. The ship has been providing this service since 1963. It doesn’t get much cooler than a floating bookmobile! Photo credit Ingrid Draege/Bokbaten Epos.

This is just a tiny sample of the amazing libraries and photos Johnson shares in his book. You need to see this book for yourself. If you live in Darke County, head to Greenville Public Library and check out Improbable Libraries (027 Johnson) today!


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