Bookmine turns whole of Antwerp into community library


A new platform being tested in Antwerp lets readers connect and offer their own books for exchange, creating a community of book-lovers and a city-wide library

Book-lovers united

The city of Antwerp is testing a digital platform that allows residents to borrow books from each other, turning the city into one giant library.

Bookmine is the brainchild of 26-year-old Bastien Lauwers. “There are already ways to exchange books, such as free bookcases where you can take one of the books on offer and put another in its place. That has caught on, but I wanted to aim for an even wider audience.” The idea to let people lend books to each other caught the attention of the Antwerp library system, which helped Lauwers (pictured, right) develop his platform.

As well as borrowing and lending books, Bookmine brings people into contact with others who have the same literary tastes, leading to a community of users who can give each other recommendations.

Readers go to the Bookmine website, create a profile and make a list of books they have available to lend or exchange for another book. The more people who take part, the larger the virtual library gets. Users can then browse the collection and pick out a book to borrow, or join the community to ask for advice or for a particular title. To hand over the books, people can contact each other via the Bookmine chat facility.

“A project like Bookmine is the library of the future,” said Caroline Bastiaens, Antwerp city councillor for culture. “The city becomes one big library where people can meet, borrow books and inspire each other.” 

Photo: Frederik Beyens/Stad Antwerpen