International Update: 'Pass on the Magic' Book Drive in U.K.; 'Future Library' Opens in Norway

Several independent booksellers in the England are partnering with the Children's Book Project for this year's "Pass the Magic" campaign, in which bookshops receive donations of "gently used" children's books in an effort to combat book poverty among children. The Bookseller reported that "members of the local community are being encouraged to drop off books at their local participating bookshop. These will be gifted to other children with very few books of their own, and the campaign aims to generate 20,000 books."

The initiative, held in conjunction with Independent Bookshop Week (June 18-25), builds on last year's inaugural campaign, which saw 14 participating bookshops take in more than 6,000 donated books. This year, 37 shops are participating, including Tales on Moon Lane in Herne Hill, South London; and Bags of Books in Lewes, East Sussex. 

The event will take place during IBW and extend until July 9. Most participating bookshops are in London or in the south of England, but the charity hopes to expand its reach in subsequent years.

Children's Book Project founder Liberty Venn said: "Pass on the books your children have loved but grown out of and help us to put stories directly in other children's hands. It's a powerful way to combat book poverty and to give every child the chance to find a book that inspires them."

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Last Sunday, the Future Library, a project created by Scottish artist Katie Paterson, was opened to the public in Oslo, Norway. The Guardian reported that after eight years, "manuscripts penned by some of the world's most famous living authors were delivered to 'the silent room' on the top floor of the Deichman library, where they will remain for the next 92 years."

Four of the Future Library's eight authors were on hand to "personally slide their manuscripts into one of the 100 glass drawers in the room constructed from 100 layers of undulating carved wood. Visibly awed and clutching their manuscripts, David Mitchell, Sjón and Tsitsi Dangarembga lined up in stockinged feet--Karl Ove Knausgård was barefoot--to enter the womb-like treehouse and deposit their stories. These works will not be read or published until 2114, when the Future Library will open its drawers to the world," the Guardian wrote.

Margaret Atwood, who was the first author to join the project in 2014 with "Scribbler Moon," had compared the concept with Sleeping Beauty, noting "how strange it is to think of my own voice--silent by then for a long time--suddenly being awakened after 100 years." 

Other writers participating in the Future Library project include Elif Shafak, Han Kang and Ocean Vuong. 

Mitchell said the day in 2114 when the library drawers are reopened "will be like Woodstock in the forest!" Knausgård added: "The magic is to make the future present for us now. The future doesn't exist, it's what we make it." Sjón described "this path here in the forest in Oslo (becoming) a metaphor for how literature works: it is the work of generations; writers are literally working in the footsteps of writers who went before them--and that is the magic of Katie's work: she makes enormous concepts like time and the universe visible and understandable."

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In the latest edition of the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association's "Meet Our Member" series, CIBA featured the Whyte Museum Book Shop in Banff, Alb., which "has worked hard to adapt to the emerging needs of its customers--and the changing circumstances of the pandemic." Among the highlights of the q&a with manager Janet Boger:

I've visited many museum gift shops over the years but never a museum book shop! Can you tell us a bit about how the shop came to be?
The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, which opened in 1967, is situated along the Bow River in downtown Banff. The Whyte Museum Shop opened in the 1990s thanks to founders Catharine Robb Whyte and Peter Whyte. The original shop format was a traditional museum shop that offered a small selection of books on the area, art prints, local artisan crafts, and souvenirs. Now we are in the process of reinventing the shop into a more comprehensive bookshop to better serve both locals and tourists. We came to the realization that we are the best local source for books on history, culture, and general information about the area. So, we decided to refocus our efforts on improving our book selection. We changed our name to the Whyte Museum Book Shop and joined CIBA....

What do you love most about being an independent bookseller?
The most gratifying thing about selling books is the enrichment it gives to others. Everyone is different and comes out with a unique experience they are keen to share, good or bad, either way. How great is that! I like the challenges presented to me daily to solve – this is what keeps me in retail. It's a dynamic business that forces me to remain curious. I was once told by John Lennox, a very successful retail operator I trained under, 'once a retailer, always a retailer.' He was right." --Robert Gray

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