Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live

This is Culture


Outdoor libraries offer commuters in Cairo a world of books to explore

Outdoor libraries offer commuters in Cairo a world of books to explore


Small cupboards filled with books have appeared on the bustling streets of downtown Cairo,Egypt offering entertainment and literature to book-loving commuters.

The “Place A Book, Take A Book” libraries started appearing on Alfy and Emad El Din Street in Downtown Cairo two months ago with the goal of promoting reading among Egyptians of all ages.

People have contributed books from all genres in several languages, making sure the shelves are full.

Arabic literature student, Ahmed Aly, fills the library on Alfy street with a dozen books every few days.

“I like the idea of the library, taking a book and replacing a book. It would be beneficial to many people, not necessarily someone struggling financially. The idea is that I might be looking for a certain book, I can then exchange that book with another. The idea is to spread culture,” he said.

The project was founded by Nader Riad, a prominent Egyptian businessman who aims to spread the exchange of unused books and also reading awareness.

The director of the project, Labib Samir, said that this is just the start for the libraries. He has plans to expand within the next year to eight book cupboards around downtown Cairo, holding 160 books each.

“The Egyptian public owns millions of books. They are put on shelves or in warehouses. Unfortunately they end up being abused and used as paper cones for nuts. The project consists of eight libraries. We started with three libraries, two in Alfy street and one in Emad El Deen street, for a three-month evaluation and trial,“Samir added.

The libraries are left unlocked and unmonitored, but despite occasional empty shelves, readers have been quick to restock the cupboards.

View more