Ljubljana, Slovenia

Another day, another unusually quirky story from the public library space.

Today’s story comes from the far-off and seemingly magical outpost of Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. And yes, this story does happen to be about 13 months old—the earliest online reference we found carried a January 2012 deadline. But because it doesn’t seem to have attracted much press attention when it first broke, and because it does such a good job of illustrating the joy of surprise and discovery that libraries offer, we figured it wouldn’t hurt to bring it to your attention.

Ljubljana City LibrarySee the packages in the photo on the right, wrapped in brown butcher paper? Those are mystery packs, and at the time the photo was taken, they were waiting to be chosen by visitors to the Ljubljana City Library.

The sticker affixed to each package represents only the genre of the books hidden inside. (I can see stickers representing sci-fi, mystery, and what appears to be history—European history, perhaps?) The titles themselves, all of which were hand-picked by librarians, remain a mystery until the borrower arrives home, tears off the wrapping, and dives in.

According to an international trend-spotting site that featured the program, “the parcels all contained one novel from a contemporary writer, one classic, and one ‘easy to read’ novel.”

I love it. I think if I stumbled upon something like this at my local branch, I’d grab a mystery pack just out of pure curiosity. That is, the curiosity to see what sort of books my local librarians had recommended, and also the hope of finding something potentially life-changing, which is basically what I’m hoping for every time I enter a place where the written word is on offer.

What do you think? If your branch offered something like this, would you give it a try? Why, or why not?


  1. Good lord, no! I spend a large part of my life avoiding the books, shows, films and music that other people want to foist upon me. I know exactly what I want to see, hear and read: and I’d much rather people used their time and energy trying to make it accessible to me than on bundling up surprise packages. Remember Sturgeon’s Rule? ‘90% of EVERYTHING is crap’.

  2. I certainly do remember Sturgeon’s Rule, Jon, but let’s not forget the addendum so many others have added on to it: “Ninety percent of all creative projects [not everything, incidentally] may indeed be crap … but it’s the other 10 percent we get out of bed every morning for.”

  3. This is actually quite common in the United States. Especially around Valentine’s Day. It’s usually called “Blind Date with a Book” or something similar. My library had a display this year. A quick Google search comes up with lots of examples.

  4. I wouldn’t bother, because if it’s sci-fi, then I’ve probably read the books already if I cared about them in the least, and if it’s history then it’s a crapshoot — I like history, but not just anything. But I can imagine the system working for children and generally people who don’t read all that much.

  5. @Omaha–Do you have any information about your program on your website, or anything you might be able to send my way? Also, I understand that, like the small-town Colorado library we wrote about recently, you’re also planning on launching a seed library. True? If so, I’d love to know more about it. You can contact me at deldridge AT napco.com – and thanks!

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