Feature: Book buses pull up in Ljubljana for Mobile Library Festival

  • World
  • Friday, 17 May 2024

LJUBLJANA, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Estera Perkovic Secen drives her book-filled bus through the Croatian coastal area of Rijeka, each stop brimming with anticipation. With up to eight destinations daily, she brings the magic of literature to life.

"I love the work that I do because I can combine my love for books, literature, children, the young, adventure, travel and the open road," the librarian and driver of the mobile library told Xinhua, her voice tinged with excitement.

On Thursday, a fleet of 18 library buses from Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary pulled up in Ljubljana for a two-day Mobile Library Festival and international conference.

The event, which also marked the 50th anniversary of the creation of Ljubljana's mobile library, was opened by a local brass band. Slovenian Culture Minister Asta Vrecko and deputy mayor of the city of Ljubljana Dejan Crnek also addressed the conference.

"The network of libraries is the largest cultural network in Slovenia, which enables people to enter the world of culture, reading and imagination," Vrecko said, underlining that mobile libraries make information accessible to all, even those who live in remote villages.

Slovenia has 14 mobile libraries, which cover the whole country, and travel a combined total of around 131,000 kilometers a year. This is the equivalent of traveling more than three times around the globe.

"We go to places where others do not go, like prisons, care centers for the elderly, kindergartens, schools for children with special needs, and remote villages. We lend out about 400 books per day," Neja Drevensek, head of the Ljubljana mobile library, told Xinhua.

Many schoolchildren and students, as well as adults came to look inside the library buses.

"People are always happy to see us because we are often the one bright moment of their day, they do not only come to borrow books but also to talk to us, to tell us about their sorrows and pleasures," Secen added. Romance and crime novels are the most popular among her borrowers, she said.

Experts from 12 countries are participating in professional discussions on the role and practices of mobile libraries across Europe, which will continue on Friday.

An exhibition of posters from libraries from Slovenia, Croatia and Portugal is also accompanying the event, which takes place in a different Slovenian city every two years.

"I'm taking a look at these library buses because I love libraries. I do not use a mobile library myself as I live in the city but my mom, who lives in a remote village, is a great fan of the mobile library that visits the village every month," said 20-year-old Mojca, a student in Ljubljana.

Slovenia has a well-developed library network, but hills and mountains make access to many remote villages difficult. Mobile libraries in the country therefore have around 20,000 regular users.

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