March 25, 2022

Belgian publisher donates over a thousand books to railway station libraries


Belgian train journeys: now with free books! (Marc Ryckaert (MJJR), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

While the closure of a publishing house is never something to celebrate, one Belgian company have found a way to extend their legacy: by donating 1,100 books to little free libraries.

As reported in The Brussels Times, the books will be distributed across the network of book boxes installed at Belgium’s railway stations in 2021 by SNCB (National Railway Company of Belgium).

The publisher, who until last year produced a wide range of non-fiction titles, recently announced their closure and liquidation of inventory. They decided to donate a quantity of remaining stock to the library scheme because, according to company owner Laurent Minguet, they “prefer sharing to wasting”.

SNCB announced that book boxes would be set up across their network in October last year. The boxes themselves were designed by a competition-winning team of students from Saint-Luc school in Liège, and incorporate old train parts into their structure to promote sustainability.

The Brussels Times carried a quote from the SNCB PR as the announcement was made:

With these book boxes available at stations, passengers are invited to borrow a book, read it at their leisure – particularly during one or more train journeys – and then return it to the same book box, or to another box, for example at the station where their journey took them.

It’s an elegant and efficient way to, in the words of the company, “facilitate access to culture,” and although Minguet’s company may be no more, his generosity means book-loving passengers no longer need to, ahem, board the train in vain.



Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.