Outdoor libraries : the stone benches-come-libraries on Barcelona’s Passeig de Sant Joan

Nowadays, municipal library networks often offer the general public some kind of outdoor library service where people can read books or consult other materials in spaces designated as open-air recreation sites. The first country to make this kind of service available was the US, in the 1920s and 1930s, but before it became a common practice in that country Spain had already created a number of such libraries. These included the outdoor libraries in the María Luisa and Buen Retiro parks in Seville and Madrid, respectively, and on the promenade known as Passeig de Sant Joan in Barcelona. The article looks at the origins of these three libraries and then focuses on the service in Passeig de Sant Joan, which took the form of books on shelves built into the backs of stone benches on the promenade.