Dont be shy, open the door and start browsing! You may have spotted these structures around town:  Frankfurt’s Offene Bücherschränke (public bookcases) appear next to busstops, in front of churches, on quiet neighborhood corners, and in busy districts like Leipziger Straße.  The first few times I saw one, it seemed like I had stumbled upon Dr. Who’s TARDIS.  Everyone was walking past it as if it wasn’t there. I wanted to hide behind a tree and wait for someone to approach it.  It felt like such a quintessential German experience to then see a lady cycle up to the bookshelf, browse for a while before swapping her selected books with those already in her bicycle basket.

The first  of Frankfurt’s “official” Offene Bücherschränke was installed in Frankfurt’s Merienplatz in Bornheim in 2009 as part of a federally funded program to revitalize the neighborhood, and suqsequently became the responsibility of the local district to maintain.  Frankfurt’s city website now lists fünfzig (50!) Offene Bücherschränke in various Stadtvierteln (districts) around the city. The local councils oversee volunteers that keep the bookshelves clean and tidy.

The selection in any given bookshelf is diverse, and can vary widely between neighborhoods.  I’ve found English language novels, German learn-your-ABCs picture books, Sicilian cookbooks, dense agricultural journals and more. My Empfehlung (recommendation): Don’t go looking for something specific, be excited for what you might find.

I took this picture of the first Offener Bücherschrank that I saw, only 4 days after arriving in Germany. How pleased am I that I can now not just read, but pretty easily translate this entire message?!

(This is a free library, open around-the-clock, for all citizens and guests of our city Frankfurt am Main.
Just take a book that you’d like to read.  Bring it back later, or put another book on the shelf that you think is read-worthy for someone else.  That’s how there’s always enough reading material here for everyone.
Children’s books are well cared for in the lowest shelf.
Have fun with browsing, reading, and contributing, and many thanks to the bookcase sponsors. )


One Comment Add yours

  1. expatfrankfurt says:

    I love the idea of the booksharing boxes. so old fashioned and simple, but effective!


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