If your device is dead as you pass through Thunder Bay International Airport – or you’re simply craving the printed page while you fly from A to B – you can borrow a book for free at the Flybrary, a new venture at in partnership with Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL).
A mini-library consisting of five shelves of books, the Flybrary occupies a sunny spot on the main floor of the terminal. There are a few airport libraries in the United States, such as one in Seattle-Tacoma, plus others in Amsterdam and Helsinki. The Flybrary is thought to be the first in Canada to lend print books.
“We’ve been playing around with the idea of putting library collections in places other than libraries as part of our overall strategy to make our library more present in the community,” says John Pateman, chief librarian and CEO of TBPL. “The Flybrary is one of the first things visitors see when they arrive, and they can keep a book as a reminder of their visit when they leave.”
The Flybrary opened in September and the program has been so successful that the TBPL plans to double the number of books available. It’s modelled on the Little Free Library concept, where homeowners and small businesses set up a shelf of books in a public place so passersby can help themselves.
That means no library card is required; you simply take a book or drop one off, and pass your read along to someone else when you’re done. The TBPL replenishes the shelves regularly, so there’s bound to be one that piques your interest.
“We wanted it to be a microcosm of the main library, which does have an eclectic mix, rather than the same 10 titles you tend to see at every airport in the world,” Pateman says.
When we checked, genres included biography (Houdini: The Handcuff King by Jason Lutes and Nick Bertozzi), fantasy (Alosha by Christopher Pike), at least one classic (Frankenstein by Mary Shelley) and a bodice ripper (Days of Gold by Jude Devereaux).
When you factor in the high ceilings, sleek bentwood lounge chairs made by local industrial craftsman Nathan Kushner, and the exposed beams and ductwork, you might even feel like you’re hanging out in a cool new bookstore. Just be sure not to miss your boarding call.