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Dear Library Libraries and airports might seem an odd match at first, but both can be a bastion of solitude amidst a chaos of ideas, people and cultures. And a good book has always been a trusty travel companion – better at times, even, than actual companions.

What is the difference between being a regular librarian and an airport librarian? “None,” says Jeanine Deckers, Schiphol Airport’s librarian, except that they have to go through security to get to work. And, she adds, “The people you get to meet at the airport are more interesting.” Airport Library at Schiphol (currently closed due to renovations) opened to much fanfare in 2010, providing travelers, including the 42 percent in 2013 who were making transfers, with a literary sanctuary open around the clock. “I’ve been sitting here for more than 12 hours,” reads one of the comments left in the digital guestbook. “Seven hours passed in a flash,” reads another. Airport Library’s collection is centered on Dutch culture, offering 1,250 books (and four

iPads) ranging from Dutch literary classics to volumes on Dutch art and architecture, translated into over 30 languages. Dick van Tol, senior adviser at ProBiblio and leader of Schiphol’s library project, explains, “The Airport Library is a showcase of what is around the airport,” intended to “get people acquainted with Dutch culture.” In four years, over a million visitors have all made good use of the facility. “Dear library,” opens another comment, “we were so surprised and delighted to find such a treasure.” Though the primary goal of Schiphol’s library is to promote Dutch culture, it may also be encouraging stopover visitors to make a return trip – likely a reason why Amsterdam Marketing is one of the library’s most active partners. “This place makes me

A 2013 Skyscanner survey revealed that 32 percent of travelers would like to see libraries in airports. 26

volume 5, edition 1

want to stay in Amsterdam instead of flying away to my actual destination,” writes one enthusiast. “I may be planning an escape to Holland very soon.” Indeed, van Tol shares that the general topic “Amsterdam” is among the library’s most popular, especially “short videos on Amsterdam that give a general idea of the city.” Being in a place of transit also lends itself to the idea of traveling books, which is why many airport libraries are happy to see their books go on journeys of their own. Over a three-year period, concourses in SeattleTacoma International Airport were furnished with “Quick Read” stations provided by the local King County Library System (KCLS). Airline Passenger Experience Association

photo: Jeanine Deckers

by Katie Sehl | illustration Julie Carles

APEX Experience - The Education Issue  
APEX Experience - The Education Issue  

APEX Experience Vol. 5, Issue 1; The Education Issue