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Unisa’s free library initiative an oasis of calm amidst information overload

In a world where the rapid pace of life often leaves little room for leisurely pursuits, the Unisa Cape Town Campus Library has taken a commendable step towards promoting the joy of reading with its innovative initiative known as the Book Bungalow. Inspired by similar projects like the Flybrary at the Cape Town International Airport and the FAIR Social library at the Park Café in Greenpoint, this unique endeavour aims to create a haven for reading enthusiasts within the university community.

Michelle Biederman, Junior Librarian at Unisa’s Cape Town Campus and originator of the Book Bungalow concept

Launched on 19 September during National Book Week, the Book Bungalow serves as a beacon of literature at the Unisa Cape Town Campus. This initiative is the brainchild of Michelle Biederman, a junior librarian at the campus library, who was driven by a passionate desire to make reading more accessible and enjoyable for both students and staff.

The Book Bungalow stands as a testament to the belief that books should be accessible to all, regardless of their economic backgrounds. It functions as a "free library" where anyone affiliated with the Unisa community can take or leave books as they please. The only guideline in this literary sanctuary is to read for pleasure, encouraging a love for books and storytelling.

One might wonder why such an initiative is necessary when public libraries exist. However, Biederman points out a significant concern – the declining use of public libraries. Books are indeed expensive, and the digital age has transformed the way people access information. As a result, the Book Bungalow at Unisa offers a convenient alternative, rekindling the magic of reading in a digital age.


A student browsing the offerings at the Book Bungalow

The benefits of reading for pleasure are well-documented and extend beyond the enjoyment of a good story. Reading enhances cognitive abilities, improves vocabulary, reduces stress and fosters empathy by allowing readers to immerse themselves in different worlds and perspectives. Moreover, it promotes a lifelong learning mindset, which is essential for personal and professional growth.

Initiatives like the Book Bungalow not only encourages reading but also contribute to building a strong sense of community within the university. Such projects serve as meeting points for students and staff, bridging the gap between these two integral parts of the academic ecosystem. When students and staff come together to share their love for literature, it fosters an environment of camaraderie and collaboration.


Manager of the Cape Town Library, Geraldine Cele, and Branch Librarian Musa Mavundla

Moreover, the Book Bungalow proves that universities are not just centres of academic learning, but also hubs of creativity and innovation. The initiative showcases the dedication of the Unisa Cape Town Campus Library staff in creating a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere that goes beyond textbooks and research papers.

Amidst the constant bombardment of with information and distractions we face daily, the Book Bungalow serves as an oasis of calm, a reminder that the written word has the power to transform lives, one page at a time.


By Vicky-Lee Lee Shew, Acting Manager: Communication and Marketing, Unisa Western Cape Region

Publish date: 2023/10/24

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