March 5, 2016

Book exchange in Nijmegen made of dead trees

Filed under: General,Literature,Nature,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 9:57 pm


This charming little street library was spotted today by us in the Lindenholt neighbourhood of Nijmegen. It’s made of tree trunks with added plastic curtains shielding books from the elements. Patrons are supposed to swap books, which means take one out, put one of your their own back in. The tree was placed there in 2014. Two other book trees have been added to the neighbourhood since.

The idea of using real dead trees to house the proverbial ones is not new. A German project that aims to promote women in construction, Baufachfrau, has been adding similar kiosks to the streets of Berlin since 2006 as part of the international Bookcrossing project.

In our neck of the woods, Amsterdam, it’s actually a bit trendy for houses to feature ‘outdoor bookcases’ (‘buiten boekenkasten’), but then Google shows us it’s cool throughout the country.

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October 19, 2011

American writer Bukowski told Dutch library how it is

Filed under: Literature by Orangemaster @ 2:30 pm

In 1985, following a complaint from a local reader, staff at the Public Library in Nijmegen decided to remove Charles Bukowski’s book, Tales of Ordinary Madness, from their shelves whilst declaring it “very sadistic, occasionally fascist and discriminatory against certain groups (including homosexuals).” In the following weeks, a local journalist by the name of Hans van den Broek wrote to Bukowski and asked for his opinion. It soon arrived.

Look at a picture and read the entire poetic response here.

“If I write badly about blacks, homosexuals and women it is because of these who I met were that. There are many “bads”–bad dogs, bad censorship; there are even “bad” white males. Only when you write about “bad” white males they don’t complain about it. And need I say that there are “good” blacks, “good” homosexuals and “good” women?”

I think that whoever complained just couldn’t read English or between the lines properly.

(Link:, via @ejpfauth on Twitter)

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September 14, 2010

Delft University library desk

Filed under: Architecture,Design by Branko Collin @ 10:14 pm

This is the service desk of the architecture library at the University of Delft. Neat, eh?

(Photo by Flickr user IK’s World Trip, some rights reserved. Link, with more photos: Recyclart.)

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January 16, 2010

Dutch national library wants to digitize everything

Filed under: Literature by Branko Collin @ 10:08 am

From the Strategic Plan 2010-2013 of the Dutch National Library:

Strategic priority 1: As a national library, the KB wishes to offer everyone everywhere digital access to everything published in and about the Netherlands. …

Main aims …

* We digitize all Dutch books, newspapers and periodicals from 1470. …
* We make agreements about copyright in order to guarantee free access to our collections. …

The KB in 2013: …

* We offer a service for digitization on demand (digitisation of texts from the paper collection on request) in order to meet the wishes of individual clients. …
* We keep a digitisation register that prevents possible overlap of digitization activities by other institutions. …

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library) will not only digitize printed works, but will also archive digital works such as web pages. According to Trouw, the first 10% of 600 million books pages to be digitized should be available in 2013.

Via Open Access News.

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May 31, 2009

Tower of children’s books in Amsterdam public library

Filed under: Design,Literature by Branko Collin @ 6:31 pm

Speaking of towers of books, this one is in the recently built main branch of the Amsterdam public library, in the children’s books section. The top has pillows in it so that children can sit there and read.

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April 18, 2008

Royal Library wants copyright law changed

Filed under: Literature by Branko Collin @ 11:21 am

Copyright is not fit for this digital age, and needs to be changed, so say two representatives of the Dutch national library in a letter to daily NRC yesterday. In their epistle (Dutch) Martin Bossenbroek and Hans Jansen, managers Collections & Service and E-strategy respectively of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library), the Dutch national library, explain how difficult it can be to run large-scale digitization programs when for a large number of books it simply is not clear whether they have returned to the public domain or not:

Copyright is a good thing, but the code that enshrines this right is too much of a good thing in its current form. In the digital age, it misses its targets. For hundreds of thousands of 20th century rights holders, it offers no protection, recognition and reward, but only the prospect of oblivion. An adaption of copyright law to the demands of the 21st century is needed urgently, otherwise the building of a digital library of any serious proportion will remain an illusion.

[Because of the difficulty of locating the heirs of long-dead authors, you cannot safely re-publish works that came out a 100 years ago.]

Both institutions and companies are keeping a safe distance from this copyright danger zone, and this will result in unbalanced digital collections. The digital library of the 21st century will have a gaping hole where works of that age should be. Hundreds of thousands of authors will never be found again. For them the chance of an epiphanous find followed by a second, digital life will definitely be gone.

This scenario can hardly be the meaning of a law that should protect an author’s rights. Before anything else, an author has the right to be read. That is why it is high time for an Internet exception for non-commercial use in the Dutch copyright law, one better thought through than the changes of 2004. Since then, heritage institutions are allowed to offer their collections electronically to the general public, but only from within their own building, using an intranet. That’s just not how the Internet works.

The authors go on about orphaned works, and how a mixture of Scandivian and Anglo-Saxon orphan works law could produce a best of both worlds: mixing extended collective licenses with the opt-out principle. Collective licenses, also known as levies, are funds paid by the public into one big pot, and redistributed to the copyright holders. In a lot of jurisdictions radio is paid for this way. This makes radio possible: if there were no collective licenses, a radio broadcaster would have to negotiate separate contracts with artists for each track they play. At least, so the theory goes. Opt-out means the author or their heirs has to state explicitly not to want to participate. Copyright law is opt-in by default, but stops functioning in areas where the rights holders cannot be traced, or only with immense difficulty. It is something authors have brought upon themselves with their support of the Berne Convention, which outlaws any sensible scheme for tracking authors and their works.

I published an essay on the same topic last week at the Teleread blog. Next week the Amsterdam public library will organise a conference on the meaning of copyright for libraries, where Ernst Hirsch Ballin, the Dutch Minister of Justice, will be one of the speakers.

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December 5, 2007

Take a seat and it will follow you around

Filed under: Design,Gadgets,Technology by Orangemaster @ 4:08 pm

Check it out: a chair that follows you around! The chair has an RFID chip and the human has a card to activate it. When the human leaves the perimeter in question (sounds like Star Trek), the chair goes back to its original spot, like Spot the Dog. This brain child is from Jelte Van Geest, a student at the Eindhoven Design Academy.

(Link in French:, Tip: Laurent)

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