Cities all over the word are discovering that virtual libraries need little physical space, making it possible to place them in locations that would otherwise not be able to hold more than a handful of books. Cities as diverse as Mexico City and Bucharest are putting virtual libraries in transit stations, and earlier this week Philadelphia followed suit.
The Free Library of Philadelphia announced earlier this week that they had installed a virtual library at Suburban Station, a transit station that (in spite of the name) is actually in downtown Philly.
As part of their celebration of National Library Week (14 April to 20 April), more than 70 advertising boards were installed in the station. As you can see from the images at right, the signs are covered with a selection of book covers as well as QR codes that travelers can scan to download ebooks.
According to the Free Library's blog, more than 50 titles are available for download via the virtual library as well as podcasts from the Free Library's Author Events series. This is but a tithe of the Free Library's extensive digital collection which includes more than 80 thousand ebooks, 8 thousand audiobooks, and over a thousand author podcasts.
The project was launched by the Free Library in cooperation with their partners SEPTA and Titan, with funding provided by Dunkin’ Donuts. The virtual library is going to be maintained during the month of April. Plans have not yet been made to expand it or keep it running after April is over, though that it under discussion.