What do you visualise of when you think of a library? Maybe your local library, a building you regularly go to in your community. It’s probably not a 85 foot boat! In Norway however this is the local library for many remote villages.
Traditionally, the sea has been the main mode of transport along the coast of Norway. The coast is made up of a lots of islands and islets, with many remote places along the fjords. Although communications are improving, with roads, tunnels and bridges being built, there are still quite a few communities most easily reached by boat.
To service these communities a mobile library was started in 1959. The 62 feet cutter Abdullah,- named after a cigarette brand, a reminiscence of its past in the tobacco trade – was hired and equipped for the purpose. It was an instant success. In under two months the library had visited 150 hamlets and loaned 7,000 books.
In 1963 the boat Epos was built specifically to serve as a floating mobile library and has since then been sailing as a library on the West coast of Norway.
In 1963, the service became a joint venture between three counties along the west coast, Hordaland, Sogn og Fjordane and Møre og Romsdal. Epos sails from September to April, the period being split into two tours. Each tour, lasting for 64 days, covers the three counties and the visits count about 150 small communities.
I wonder if this could start a new ”wave” of floating libraries elsewhere?
Source: Bokbaten Epos, “The Library Boat”