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The floating library brings summer reading to beachgoers at five docking stations on Lake Woerth –Carinthia’s largest and most beautiful lake. With over 75000 titles of library inventory this floating library has something for everyone.

By Diana Mautner Markhof 27.8.2021

Carinthia, the southernmost province of Austria, is known for breathtaking landscapes, wonderful lakes and its unique floating library, the book boat or Bücherboot. This floating library sets sail every summer on Lake Woerth – one of Carinthia’s top attractions. The floating library travels a set route from July to the beginning of September. Stopping at five locations seven days a week, the book boat, an innovative idea by former head librarian Christoph Kreutzer of the Carinthian Chamber of Labor (Arbeiterkammer), can be seen traveling throughout the eastern side of Lake Woerth. IGlobenews talked to the current head librarian of the Carinthian Chamber of Labor, Roman Huditsch, who shared insights into the AK’s history, its educational mission and the AK’s book boat.

The Austrian Chamber of Labor (“Arbeiterkammer” or AK) represents the interests of workers and employees throughout Austria. On 26 February 1920, the Austrian Parliament passed the Chamber of Labor Act, and the AK marked this occasion last year by launching a campaign titled “100 years of AK, 100 years of justice”. The AK’s educational mission is founded on this Act.

Austria is unique in that workers, industry and commerce historically set up their own interest groups, which go far beyond being mere lobbies. The Austrian concept of social partnership created equal partners which have contributed to social peace by cooperating effectively to deal with social and economic issues.

The “Bücherboot” or book boat is unique in that it goes beyond all social boundaries and groups to reach all readers and book enthusiasts, regardless of their political affiliation. The original idea was to bring the books to the readers and promote reading. And since on Lake Woerth most people can be found at one of many public and semi-public beaches, the idea of a library which brings books to beachgoers was born.

Selli, the electric boat which houses the book boat, is piloted by Captain Wolgang Pschernig. After taking a Covid break in the summer of 2020, the book boat has been servicing the public every summer since 2014. In addition to stops at the Parkbad (Park Beach) Krumpendorf, the library makes stops at the beach of the labor union ProGe, the beaches at Loretto in Klagenfurt, the Klagenfurt Strandbad (beach) and Bad Stich in Krumpendorf. The floating library stops for one hour at each location. The library is a local fixture and each time it docks, many line up to go on board.

Each day the library on the lake chooses a selection of about 800 titles from its library inventory of 75 000. The inventory includes paperbacks and hard cover books, journals and magazines as well as audio titles. The up-to-date selection provides interesting summer reading for all age groups and has a section dedicated to children and youth literature. Locals and visitors to Lake Woerth can pre-order any title from the library’s large collection of titles, which the book boat will deliver within two days.

The cost of a lifelong library card is € 10. Visitors to Lake Woerth can borrow books at no charge – a fully refundable deposit is required. Children and young adults under 18 can apply for a free library card. There is no limit to the number of books which can be taken out. This one library card allows its holder not only to borrow books from the book boat, but also to use the “Bücherinsel” or book island which is a pop-up library located at the Klagenfurt Strandbad, as well as the AK’s media library and digital library and the AK’s main library in Klagenfurt, Carinthia’s capital city located directly on the eastern shore of Lake Woerth.

As Gerwin Mueller, the Chamber of Labor’s former deputy director, put it: “A beautiful summer day and a good book, what more could you want. The book boat of the AK libraries provides a constant flow of new reading material.” The Carinthian Chamber of Labor is fulfilling its educational mission through this innovative library concept as well as bringing joy to many beachgoers on Lake Woerth.

The floating library has been copied on Lake Constance and the AK is discussing similar projects on Carinthia’s western lakes, Ossiach See and Faaker See, and on the river Drau close to Carinthia’s second largest city, Villach. One can only hope that other towns, cities, municipalities and regions will copy this wonderful idea which promotes reading and brings people together.

Picture: Floating library © Gernot Gleiss
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