Libraries Popping Up in Airports Offer Free Books to Travelers

Free Library of Philadelphia Airport Exhibit
Free Library Exhibit at Philadelphia International Airport

Traveling by air has become a chore of late. Not only this, God forbid you've left your book at home, because that means you'll either have to entertain yourself with the in-flight magazine or saw off an arm and a leg in exchange for a book from one of the airport shops (and suffer a diatribe about Obama from the cashier to boot—and yes, this actually happened to me).

Fortunately, local libraries are stepping up and providing free reads to travelers, so we don't ever have to find ourselves in the above predicament again. Melville House Books reports that Manhattan Regional Airport in Kansas and Philadelphia International Airport have partnered with Kansas State Library and the Free Library of Philadelphia, respectively, to provide free eBooks to passengers. The downside to this, of course, is the necessity for a lending card attached to that particularly library; non-locals are redirected to Project Gutenberg, where the selection is limited to books in the public domain (Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, etc.)

At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, however, the King County Library System has set up Quick Read stations with physical books, magazines, and even places to sit and read. Passengers can chill out and read at the station, or borrow an item for their flight, with no obligation to return (though, according to the library's marketing director Julie Brand, many customers still do, sometimes going as far as shipping books back to the main branch).

I love this idea, and I hope we'll see more libraries pop up in airports soon. Perhaps we'll even see cross-airport libraries with no specific city affiliation, which would allow you to borrow a book in New York City and return it in San Francisco.

Would you fly more often if free books were offered in the mix? I would.

Image of Great Expectations
Manufacturer: Waxkeep Publishing
Part Number:
Image of Pride and Prejudice, Annotated
Manufacturer: Prestwick House Inc.
Part Number:
Price: $3.99
Christopher Shultz

News by Christopher Shultz

Christopher Shultz grew up watching old Universal monster movies and reading Stephen King. His stories have appeared in MicroHorror, the anthology 'Another 100 Horrors,' Smashed Cat Magazine and Grievous Angel, among other places. Christopher lives in Oklahoma City with his fiancée Lauren and their two mostly well-behaved cats. More info at

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edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading THE GOODBYE PEOPLE by Gavin Lambert July 30, 2013 - 4:30pm

Great! Now if they could make the experience of actually flying something less like getting a root canal....

Flying now is like taking the bus, except that the bus is on time.


SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading The Last Policeman trilogy July 30, 2013 - 7:12pm

This is wonderful :)

C Patrick Neagle's picture
C Patrick Neagle from Hood River, Oregon is reading words, words, words July 30, 2013 - 9:22pm

Sorry. I can't get past the "you left your book at home" part. The idea is inconceivable. :-)

Stacey Isbell Graham's picture
Stacey Isbell Graham from Washington, D.C. is reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow August 2, 2013 - 8:51pm

Airports/individual airlines should have a room set aside for books to be left after passengers are finished reading on the flight. Finished the novel? Leave it for someone else. It's good karma, baby.

crazyzoarhaina's picture
crazyzoarhaina July 30, 2014 - 1:59am

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