Shanghai metro creates a subway-only library for commuters

A Shanghai metro station in July 31
(Peter Parks / AFP/Getty Images)

Chinese subway riders using Shanghai’s Metro Line 2 will soon have their very own unofficial library. Pick up a book at one station, drop it off at any other.

The project was initiated by a bookstore, the subway line and the online education provider “Now you can read a real book, rather than staring at the cellphone through the metro ride,” said Zou Shuxian, an Aizhi bookstore spokesperson, told the China Daily.

Special bookshelves are installed at the metro stations, containing rows books for the taking. There’s no registration necessary, and no fee; readers are simply encouraged to make a small charitable donation when taking a book.


Many of the books came from donations from a program launched last year that also funneled donated books to underfunded schools.

Commuters have been quick to warm to the program, which launched earlier this month. During rush hour, lines form at the bookshelves. “Even if some books are not returned, we believe the overall benefit is worthwhile,” a staffer told China Daily.

The air-conditioned metro has been a refuge this summer for Shanghai residents seeking relief from record-breaking heat; on Aug. 7, the city was 105.4 degrees, the hottest day in 140 years. Now, while hanging out on the platform, they’ll have something to read.


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