A Free Library In The Tokyo Subway

I came across an interesting story on Tokyo Story about a book-sharing system in the metro of the Japanese capital.

If you go to Nezu station on the Chiyoda subway line of the Tokyo Metro, you will find these unusual bookcases. In the shape of an old fashioned metro train, this public book-sharing installation enables travelers to read whilst sitting in the driver’s compartment of the fist carriage. You can also take a book with you to read while commuting in the ever busy Tokyo subway. As soon as you have finished it, you can return it. The amazing fact about this tiny public underground library is that it is unattended.

Stephen David Smith from Tokyo Story describes how this way of dealing with stuff is pretty normal in Tokyo. Whereas trusting people to return a borrowed book would be very hard in most cities in the rest of the world, in Tokyo people have a natural sense of civic duty to do so, says Smith. Frequent readers of this blog must have noticed that we have featured many urban library concepts that street interventionists have installed in the city over the last year. These concepts try to use trees, phone booths and other urban objects to stimulate people to share books and trust each other and be fair. In the context of these efforts in other cities this installation in Tokyo is interesting. Apparently societal values are different in Tokyo, which opens up many chances for concepts in public urban life.