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Learning to share:

Ethics, Citizenship and Respect for the Common Good


The Free Library is a system for promoting ethics, citizenship and respect for the common good, based on valuing the human being through one of its most fundamental values: trust. The system is very simple: each person can take a book and when they return it they can take another one. No deadline, no charge, no punishment; in short, without any impediment or inhibition to remove a book or coercion to return it, just the only stimulus necessary for the reader to return: to be able to pick up a new book.


Inspired by the principles of unconditionality and reduction of bureaucracy, we developed and applied a system of loans, whether toys, books, tools, among others, which we called Free. And usually the first question everyone asks themselves is: Does this system work? Do people return the book? The answer so far is yes. In fact, the loss of collections has been much less than expected and will tend to zero with an ever-increasing rate of users of the system.

This apparently optimistic prognosis is justified when we analyze the essential factor for its success: the confidence that the books will be returned in good condition. What at first seems naive is actually the pillar of the project, the principle that allows the Free Library to go beyond the dissemination of reading to fulfill the main purpose of its creation: the Promotion of Citizenship.

When we give the user the power to decide to return the book in good condition, when there is nothing to prevent him from doing what he wants with it, we are giving him the opportunity to become aware of the value of the common good. Because the reasoning is quite simple: "Do I keep this book for myself or do I give it up to enjoy all the others available in the library?"

Our trust is therefore based on the same principle of intelligence that generates the Union: citizenship. So, the most interesting thing is that the Free Library promotes citizenship not only among the users of the system, but also among all those involved in the project, as we get rid of prejudice and come to believe and trust our fellow man not for ideological principles, philosophical or religious, but simply because that is what actually works.

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