Runway Reading



Sometimes innovative ideas can sound so simple that it’s easy to wonder how nobody ever thought of this or that before..

One such idea came to my attention last week and I thought it was perfect for a post because it shows how something seemingly obvious in some ways can still show true innovation.

I’m speaking of the Library at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Here passengers at the Airport can relax in a quiet environment away from the hustle and bustle of the main Airport Terminal. 1200 books are available, translated into 29 languages. There are also films and music and  that can be downloaded onto ipads and listened to or viewed while passengers await flight connections. It also has one large screen with changing thematic photo exhibitions. Naturally the library has proved popular attracting over a million users in three years.

The library is made possible through funding from the Dutch Ministry for Education and some other partners. When I first heard of the idea I was stunned by the brilliance and simplicity of it yet the fact that this is the first permanent Airport Library in the world, established in 2006 shows that it is a truly innovative concept and endeavour.

A little further research revealed that there are similar projects in progress at some airports in the United States, such as Cherry Capital Airport in Michigan where Signage with QR codes and instructions on usage are displayed in the airport’s baggage claim and terminal areas with links to a collection of literary classics.  These can be downloaded free of charge and no library card is required so it couldn’t be easier.

Of course airports aren’t the only unusual places that libraries can be found and now that digital material is so easily accessible there are few limits to where libraries can exist and even if physical books are desired there’s no shortage of innovative schemes for providing access. How about the Mongolian Children’s Mobile Library

which carries books to nomadic herding communities on the back of a camel to remote areas of the Gobi desert? When it comes to innovation and libraries even the sky is unlikely to be the limit!