Inside Beirut’s Kotobuses

A mobile library in Japan.

Today’s Daily Star has a short piece about Beirut’s two Kotobuses (I like the name!), or mobile libraries.

I don’t know much about the cost-effectiveness of kotobuses vs. standard, stay-in-place libraries, and I don’t think they’re a substitute—nor do they seem intended as a substitute, in Beirut—but they certainly can be started up faster and can reach new neighborhoods.

The article seems almost apologetic that most of the available children’s books are in Arabic (which is, to my mind, the best thing about it):

Because of the demographics of the neighborhoods they visit, most of the selection is in Arabic. The buses’ catalogues are heavy on children’s books in Arabic, for instance, because of the large numbers of Arabic speaking children who visit the buses. Around 1,200 students board the Kotobuses in a month and they borrow some 700 books.

The Daily Star checked in on one of the buses during a recent school visit. They found:

…the blue-carpeted bus was stocked with primary-school-appropriate books in Arabic, English and French. The students of a 4th grade class eagerly lined up in their school uniforms for a turn to select a book from the bus. Each student checked out a book of his/her choice, which they can take home for 15 days, when the bus returns.

Dear Cairo (and other cities): Let’s price this out and get ourselves some kotobuses! (Anna Lindh, I see you’re a co-sponsor on the second Beirut bus….)

More from Now Lebanon:

The Return of Public Libraries

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