Feature: The world’s largest “sanctuary” of floating books spreads knowledge and hope

VALLETTA, July 23 (Xinhua) — About 300 people from 60 countries travel the world aboard the largest floating book fair ever to spread the joy of reading and bring hope and help to the needy.

This is the mission of Logos Hope, a 132 meter long ship which was commissioned in February 2009. It entered the port of Valletta in Malta on July 12, where it is moored until the end of the month for bookworms of different ages. to enjoy a world of books.

The crew members, from the captains and chefs to the people responsible for stacking the thousands of books on board, are all volunteers.

The offering features over 5,000 book titles, mostly in English, covering a wide range of topics including science, sports, hobbies, cooking, arts, languages ​​and religion. University textbooks for languages, mathematics, geography and history are also available on board.

Although officially registered in Valletta, the vessel spends little time there, instead moving from port to port so the crew can share knowledge and help local communities, the community relations manager told Xinhua. media, Sebastian Moncayo, during a tour of the ship.

A regular on Logos Hope since 2019, with a short break to visit his family in his country of origin, Ecuador, Moncayo, 34, enjoys his life on board, meeting people from other countries and cultures.

He told how the boat has spent the last three months in Las Palmas in Spain where it was first opened to the public and then moved to a dock in another part of Spain for its annual maintenance. Before that, the boat was in West Africa, docking in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia.

After Malta, the boat will sail to Albania and Montenegro in the fall, then can continue its tour further afield to Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan in the winter.

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020, crew were not allowed to disembark for 122 days, Moncayo said. The pandemic has also reduced the boat’s income, mostly from the sale of books they buy for a fraction of the market price from donors. An entrance fee of 1 euro (1.02 US dollars) is applicable for visitors between the ages of 13 and 64.

During their stopover, the crew usually disembarks to help local communities through projects with NGOs. “We want to get the message out about how different communities can live together,” Moncayo said.

“It’s the love of books and our fascination with meeting people from different cultures that brings us together. (Our) mission is to spread knowledge and hope, and to help (people), and that’s what unites us,” he said. .

The vessel is operated under a non-profit organization, GBA Ships, based in Germany.

Avid reader Christine Ellul, 42, wouldn’t miss the chance to visit the book fair, and has been there twice already.

“I went there twice, once alone (to have) some peace and quiet and once with my children,” she told Xinhua. “I read at least one book a week and my kids love to read too.”

She said the idea of ​​the largest floating book fair was also appealing. “The children enjoyed their time on the boat, talking to the crew and playing with them. We got off the boat with three bags of books,” she added.

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