Sweden Has A Floating Library That Provides Books To People on Remote Islands


By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory

When a country supposedly has one of the highest literacy rates on Earth, it is safe to assume that the Swedes take their education pretty seriously. And this is irrespective of their socio-economic, political and geographical climate. When education is so critical to an individual’s development, it shouldn’t be compromised. 

Sweden boasts of a floating library, also called the Bokbaten, which is essentially a large boat rented by the Stockholm Library Service two times in a year- spring and fall season. This boat is then filled to the brim with books after which it charts a journey of over twenty-three inhabited islands in the Stockholm archipelago. This service was first started in 1953, and it continues to this day.

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When the boat nears a dock, people get on it to submit the previously borrowed books or sift through the latest collection that the library has to offer. Sometimes, one could also put in their request for a particular book beforehand. The volunteers that work on the boat provide at least 3000 books and mentions how the bestsellers are the ones that are borrowed like hot cakes. 

One of the residents called Maria Anderhagen assumed the responsibilities of storing the books in 2018. This is since she had the biggest basement, and could contain entire collections of books for the voyage.

The Literary Hub presents an inside look of the boat- tall shelves filled with books, a sturdy table displaying the latest hardcovers, wheel carts full of books, latest events taped to the wall and posters of children’s books and thrillers. There is also a check out counter, and a special place allocated for books that had been issued in advance. 

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Education in the Face of an Uncertain Future

Along with the Bokbaten, there is also a library bus that provides books to rural areas of Sweden. Interestingly, this service was started for fishermen, but it soon started accommodating all the other residents in the area. Like most bibliophiles, they preferred a hardcover over audio books.

The Journal Resource Sharing and Information Networks reports in a 2010 study that this library boat is especially important in the development of children. They are associated with a modern library since a very early age, and this leads to a relationship that transcends time and space. Also, this promotes the basic idea of reading, not just in the archipelago, but the other regions as well. 

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But, there is an axe present above this scheme. Funding from the regional library could go down at any point leading to its extinction. And this isn’t just speculation- a library boat service was stopped in Finland after 30 years. All because they wanted to give themselves a fresh new library that would cost $11 million. Naturally, that cut down funding for the library boat. 

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Hopefully, that wouldn’t be the case in Sweden. Because the demise of this tradition would be painful for bibliophiles all over the world. 

Also read: The Uncertain Future of Sweden’s Floating Libraries


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