Books on the Move is a non-profit community project part of Books on the Move Global Book Sharing Initiative that aims to encourage people to read on their daily commutes. Everyday, books are left at random places in the city to be picked up, read and then returned for others to enjoy.
To expand the movement, Books on the Move collaborated with Biji-biji Initiative, Me.reka Makerspace, Think City, Prasarana, Youth Made Malaysia and the British High Commission KL to build community libraries in the train stations of KL, a designated space for commuters to exchange books and inspire reading on the go. As is well-know, at Biji-biji ‘we make things’. It will therefore, come as no surprise that our role in this project was to build these bookshelves.
Design in Focus
Biji-biji, alongside Me.reka Makerspace (our partner company and education space), ran workshops led by our designers to harvest eventual designs and concept of these upcycled bookshelves.
Me.reka has developed a design brief of utilising diesel drum barrels as the main material for constructing bookshelves. Students were given the challenge of analysing the form of the barrels before the ideation phase; this strategy for the brief resonates with real life projects whereby a theme or narrative are attached to the end product. Students explored the concepts of sustainable design and up-cycling which concluded with a presentation of three designs.
Staying true to the student’s ideas, we refrained from altering much from the students’ sketches and prototype. The only thing we changed was the structural integrity, changing what was needed so that the structure would stand strong, rather than weak, but still mimicking the children’s designs.
Diesel drums, a favourite material of ours, have become quite iconic to Biji-biji and a throwback to our first project: a diesel drum seat. From our experience working with diesel drums, they are versatile. It’s fun to play with the shape and imagine what you can turn it into or what holes and shelving methods you can use with it?
Overall, design workshop is the main highlight of this project. Mostly, projects are between client and contractor but then you’re bringing in students and that opens up the process, making it even more transparent. The kids can come in and fill it with creativity and that’s the nicest part of it of course.
People @ work: Who did we collaborate with?
1)Youth Made Malaysia offers students the opportunity to work on exciting design technology projects supported by leading business and industry partners.
2) The Education is GREAT Campaign is an initiative by the British High Commission KL which supports the ASEAN priority in raising education and skill level in the region
3) The students: In collaboration with Youth Made Malaysia and the British High Commission KL, students from different schools were given an opportunity to be part of the Books on the Move Project. Through a two-day workshop at the Me.reka Makerspace, student worked with design trainers to conceptualise and design book exchange units for the project.
4) Biji-biji is involved with communicating with external parties and Me.reka was brought in to host the workshops. It is essentially a Biji-biji job but we outsourced Mereka as one of the elements within the process. So rather than designing it ourselves using Biji-biji’s designers, we outsourced this segment towards Me.reka.
Books on the Move presents itself as an impactful project to the vicinity around train stations in Kuala Lumpur. With hopes of increasing literacy for commuters, the accessibility of these community libraries could potentially improve welfare and create value to the daily ritual of commuting – which often is regarded as a sterile activity. As the project gains more visibility and traction among the public, they too can jump in on this participatory democracy of accessible knowledge in public by voluntarily donating books to these libraries.