Cape Town - It’s a place where books fly off the shelves and hopefully, others land in their place. A novel concept at the Cape Town International Airport has taken over a small corner of the arrivals hall.
Posing as a book store, the polished wooden interior is anything but. Rather, the Flybrary is a fresh spin on the charitable “pay-it-forward” approach being popularised around the world.
The concept is simple. Just finished reading that copy of Fifty Shades Of Grey while strapped in by a tight seat belt? The Flybrary could be the book’s new home.
Travellers are encouraged to slide their books on to the community library’s shelves, taking another in its place.
The small area has become a growing collection of literature including heavyweight economics textbooks, worn tomes with no titles and vegetarian recipes. There are also crime thrillers, shelves of carefully arranged fantasy novels and a cracked copy of The Da Vinci Code.
“So I can just take one of these?” asked Colin Fochessati as he walked into the library picking up a turquoise hardcover.
With no stern librarian peering over a pair of glasses, the only thing holding travellers to the Flybrary’s one rule is their word.
It has been active for almost three months and books are circulating.
The airport filled the first shelves with new and second-hand acquisitions and the management is happy the Flybrary is sustaining itself.
According to Airports Company SA, it is the first of its kind at any airport.
It was introduced as part of its “ambiance journey”, a R4-million overhaul of the international arrivals area in response to the airport scoring poorly in “ambiance” in Airport Service Quality.
Spokeswoman Deidre Hendricks said travellers “had to feel like” they had landed in Cape Town when they arrived.
The library is just one small part of the effort. Other unique features include a 58m mural of Nelson Mandela’s life story told through pictures.
There is also a reconstruction of Mandela’s cell on Robben Island complete with a view of the prison’s quad, as well as giant rocks and pictures of penguins in reference to Boulders Beach.