Knovvmads Magazine

Meet the Airport Library in Schiphol

Dick Van Tool is a librarian specialized in managing public libraries. His career has grown from being a library assistant to a project manager in charge of the most fascinating and innovative libraries in The Netherlands. In this conversation, he talks about the fascinating Airport Library in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and the train station libraries in his country.

A lot of institutions have teamed up to have this project going on and very recently gained a grant to support it for 4 more years. Can you tell more about this cooperation?

The Airport Library opened in 2011 but we started earlier, about 2008. The airport stated “we are an airport city” which is the concept of an airport with all the things you could have in a city: a casino, museums, cafés, among other amenities. We simply sent an email and told them any city has a library. Luckily, they were thinking about reading and books because they were looking for things to offer transfer passengers to pass the time between flights. So we got together and developed the project.

The participating institutions along with Schiphol Airport, were some Dutch library organizations, the library of Amsterdam and Haarlemmermeer, the community to which Schiphol belongs. Another two local library organizations and Pro Biblio, a National organization, participated. 

We developed the concept to show what Schiphol could be, our thoughts on what a library airport could be. The concept is a showcase of dutch culture for people that are only visiting the airport and maybe nothing else of the Netherlands. So, we take advantage of the time they are waiting in Holland, at the airport, to get them acquainted with dutch culture in a way that is inspiring, not too difficult. It had to have a lot of images, short and easy texts. Also, there are no doors at the library, it’s very accessible.

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