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The Walking Library: mobile books by Dee Heddon & Misha Myers

Category: #LibrariesAreEssential, #LibrariesAreEssential - Scotland's Stories, Blog, News

Walking Librarians Dee and Misha with rucksacks reading 'The Walking Library'

Walking Librarians Dee and Misha (photograph by Luke Allan)

It’s a pleasure to offer a short insight into The Walking Library as part of CILIPS’s campaign, #LibrariesAreEssential, because the Walking Librarians (Dee & Misha) share the opinion that libraries are indeed essential. Libraries – democratic places which offer everyone free access to books, and much more besides – influenced The Walking Library from its inception. Co-founded in 2012 by Professor Dee Heddon (University of Glasgow) and Dr Misha Myers (Deakin University), The Walking Library is, in essence, a library filled with books which have been suggested as good to take for a walk. Over the past decade, we have made a number of different editions of The Walking Library, each of which responds to a particular context. For example, The Walking Library for Forest WalksThe Walking Library for a Wild Citythe Walking Library for Women Walking. The stock of each library is suggested by people in response to specific questions related to the Library’s context. For example, for The Walking Library for a Wild City, commissioned by Glasgow Life for the European Championships in 2018, we asked:

What book reveals wildness in the city?

What book would you rewild by walking?


The Walking Library for Forest Walks, commissioned by The National Forest, asked:

What book would help you see the forest for the trees?

What book would provide seeds for thought and future forests?

What leaves would you want to turn and share?

What forest stories stretch both legs and minds?


The books in each of these Libraries, all of them suggested by someone, are very different. While the library content might change with each edition, the structure stays largely the same. The Walking Library invites people to browse its shelves, to select a book they wish to walk with, and then to join a small group of people each taking their selected books for a walk. We invite people to share extracts from their selected book whenever and wherever it feels appropriate; perhaps there’s a resonance between the paragraph just encountered, and the place walked through (for example, a story about a fox just as we hit Fox Street). The Walking Library is a mobile reading room, following in the footsteps of other mobile libraries. Like other libraries, it brings people together and creates a safe space for learning, without hierarchies of knowledge. The books are what gather us here. Inside each book there’s a library ticket, and on the library ticket is the reason that someone suggested it. Like all libraries, ours circulates ideas, passing books from hand to hand (or foot to foot), the books carrying traces of their journeys and readings. And like other libraries, we use a system of categorisation, a deliberately amateur application of Dewey’s.

As children, we both sought escape and inspiration in our local libraries, losing ourselves in the pages and the routes they offered to multiple elsewheres. The Walking Library stands as testimony and homage to our love of books and the libraries that send those books out into the world, free of charge. #LibrariesAreEssential

You can find out more about The Walking Library at

Heather, a Walking Library reader (photograph by Mhairi Law)

Heather, a Walking Library reader (photograph by Mhairi Law)

Thank you so much to Dee and Misha for introducing us to The Walking Library’s unique and inspirational impact, and for sharing why #LibrariesAreEssential to them. Be sure to view the full video interview for further insights from this talented team – question timings are below to help you find your way as we follow in their footsteps!

1:03 The story of The Walking Library so far and what inspired its creation

8:23 What is it about the language of ‘library’ in particular that so perfectly encapsulates what The Walking Library has achieved?

16:45 Special shout-out for mobile libraries!

20:48 Dewey Decimal System controversies and The Walking Library classifications

23:22 Storytelling and connections (plus Kirsten’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it World Book Day costume)…

24:48 The history of walking libraries

30:50 Libraries and sustainability – do we have something unique to contribute to climate action?

39:24 The Walking Library for Women Walking – libraries and feminism

49:10 What’s next for The Walking Library and how can Scotland’s libraries get involved?

53: 38 Dee’s World Book Day costume, book choice and reading!

Learn more about why #LibrariesAreEssential to Scotland’s Stories



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