BENIDORM’S ‘biblioplaya’ beach libraries were pioneers for Europe and Spain.
The first opened exactly 15 years ago and the three libraries are now used by more than 100,000 people a year. The Levante beach accounts for 70 per cent of readers, said Antonio Couto, director of the town’s central library and in charge of the municipal archive.
Biblioplayas aim to bring readers and books together, independently of where they are at the time. They combine sun, sea, holidays and fun with reading, Couto explained, in unenclosed spaces without walls, allowing readers to remain in touch with their surroundings.
The idea of the beach libraries originated in 1992 but hopes were dashed when the authorities rejected the idea: “They argued that the Coastal Laws considered it ‘illicit’ to promote reading on the beach.”
The initiative finally got off the ground in 2000 and the libraries with their books and publications in several languages were open for six months, from Easter Week until mid-October.
By the following year, demand was so great that this was extended by another two months and a third library, opened in La Cala for the months of July and August.
Benidorm’s brainchild has now reached other resorts throughout Spain and abroad.
A delegation from Norrtalje (Sweden) visited Benidorm in 2004 to see the libraries for themselves.
Impressed, they installed a similar service on their own beaches and, in honour of Benidorm, called them Biblioplayas.