article-imagePop-up library by Matali Crasset in Istres, France (photograph by Philippe Piron, via Designboom)

Books and the beach go together like sun and sand, and around the world libraries have been set up right by the shore. From Spain to Tel Aviv, pop-up mobile carts and elaborately designed structures are offering books to beachgoers to read for free. 

The above colorful canopy was designed by Matali Crasset and installed in Istres, France, last year. The Bibliothèque de Plage offered shade along with shelves of books in a fold-out design of steel and tarpaulins. While Crasset’s is more elaborate than most beach libraries, many of them are like this — able to set up quickly right on the sands. There’s also a mobile version in Holland, and another inaugurated last July in Tel Aviv on the Metzitzim Beach, offering books in five languages and Wifi for tablets to check out electronic reading material. In 2010, IKEA set up 30 shelves on Sydney’s Bondi Beach for the surfers and sunbathers

article-imageBiblioplatja in Vinaròs, Spain (photograph by Daniel Gil)

article-imageThe Albena, Bulgaria, beach Library (via Albena Resort) 

Some of the beach libraries are more permanent. In May in Abu Dhabi, a public library opened in a beautiful glass architecture on Corniche Beach. Starting in 2006, the Department of Seine-Maritime in France has installed 12 small libraries on its northern beaches (you can find a whole map of them online). Perhaps the most well-known is the extensive beach library at Albena, a restort on Bulgaria’s Black Sea. Designed by German architect Herman Kompernas, it’s built to withstand the sun, water, and wind, and equipped with a vinyl cover to protect the books in rain. It reopened this May with more than 6,000 volumes in 15 languages, all totally free to take — and visitors are encouraged to leave their own tomes for others. 

At Atlas Obscura, we’ve written about libraries in cemeteries, on the backs of burros, in Masonic lodges, and other unexpected places around the world. Yet with summer in season and the train to the Rockaways inviting us away from the office here in NYC, there idea of finding a good read on the beach is irresistible. 

Library on the beach in Étretat, France (via Mosman Library)

article-imageView of the library on the beach in Étretat, France (via Mosman Library)

Discover more beautiful and unusual libraries on the Atlas Obscura >