Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes its libraries. The McAllen Public Library took over an old Walmart for its new 123,000-square-foot main branch, four times the size of its previous location. (The big box store had moved into a larger space down the street.) After a $24 million renovation completed in 2011, the border city of McAllen now boasts the largest single floor public library in the United States, which was also recently named the most beautiful library in Texas.

The “Weapons of Mass Instruction”

Argentine artist Raul Lemesoff turned a 1979 Ford Falcon into a tank-like “Weapon of Mass Instruction” (Arma de Instrucción Masiva). He’s driven the car all around the country, to schools, slums and rural areas, delivering free donated books to anyone who wants them. The Argentinian car can carry up to 2,500 books, and Lemesoff also has built book cars in the United States and Holland. The choice of the Falcon is meaningful: During Argentina’s military dictatorship in the 1970s and ‘80s, death squads commonly used Falcons to kidnap citizens.

The book-loving camel

Author Jambyn Dashdondog has operated the Children’s Mobile Library of Mongolia for more than 20 years, traveling across the vast country by camel, horse and now van. He brings books to kids in provinces without access to libraries, sometimes staying in one location for days so the children can read as many books as they can. Since 2011, he’s gotten support from the charity Go Help.

Books on bikes

The Pima County Public Library is taking another mobile approach to reaching patrons. The system’s three Bookbikes can be found at community events around Tucson, Ariz., distributing free books and library cards. Many more library systems have now geared up to go mobile in the past five years, including Boston, Buffalo, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

The Biblioburros

Image for article titled Every book lover will want to visit these unusual libraries from around the world
Image: By Acción Visual/Diana Arias/Wikimedia Commons

Elementary school teacher Luis Soriano is famous in northern Colombia for riding his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, around the countryside on weekends. His Biblioburros have brought books and hope to poor children in the drug-war-torn area for nearly 20 years. Soriano has now built a foundation to build a permanent library in his hometown of La Gloria to house the more than 5,000 books he’s collected.

Reading inside the box

The administration of the public library in Nice, France, is hidden inside a giant surrealist sculpture of a blockhead. Artist Sacha Sosno, who worked in Nice until his death in 2013, designed it to be the largest occupied sculpture in the world. The striking sculpture is 28 meters high, containing seven floors.

Library lovers can find even more places to add to their bucket lists in Improbable Libraries: A Visual Journey to the World’s Most Unusual Libraries by Alex Johnson.

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