Strolling along Sredzkistrasse in Prenzlauer Berg near the corner with Kollwitzstrasse you may have a bit of a Sesame Street moment because ‘one of these trees is not like the others’. The Bücherwald (book forest) isn’t in fact a tree at all. It is a collection of five logs bolted together with shelves carved into the wood to create a unique lending library.
The trees for the Bücherwald were felled in the Grünewald and shaped and erected by the BAUFACHFRAU Berlin eV, an educational institution for women working in the building industry. Passersby have been browsing the books on offer since its inauguration in June 2008.
A professional education project of the supply chain
forest – wood – book
The first public bookcase in Berlin
Standing on the wide pavement near the Bücherwald it’s fun to observe people discovering the library for the first time. Something about the shelves and their protective plastic flaps catches their attention and they will wander around the tree, checking out the titles on offer. You can almost see them thinking ‘can I just take a book?’
The Bücherwald is free to use. You can come along and take, leave or swap books but if anyone is interested in what happens to the books after they leave their hands, a metal plaque on the tree points users towards bookscrossing.com.
BookCrossing, whose mission is ‘to connect people through books’, runs a database of books that have been left for others to discover.
Users are able to tag and track their individual books by marking them with BCIDs (BookCrossing Identity Numbers). Each BCID is unique to each book – once it’s registered on our site, the book can then be followed and journaled forever.
The Bücherwald is part of a popular sharing economy in Berlin – the first Givebox, with its motto ‘sharing is caring’, was placed down the street on Kollwitzstrasse.
The Givebox extends beyond book lending and allows people to leave out any unwanted items from clothes to CDs and toys to bric-a-brac – anything that someone else might be grateful for.
Next time you’re in Prenzlauer Berg, maybe eating across the street at Chutnify, I recommend stopping to browse the books on offer in the Bücherwald – it would be better still if you have some books to leave in Berlin’s book forest too.