Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie
A bright orange colour decorates the wall, the bookshelves are stuffed with books and there are stools and tables ready for people to sit at and browse through a book or drink a cup of coffee. Books4Life, the charity bookshop managed by UM students, reopened last Friday in the cellar of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (Grote Gracht 80–82). Over 150 visitors showed up to check out the new shop.
“We used to be in the School of Governance”, says shop manager Alina Marktanner. “When the school left the Kapoenstraat, we had to look for a new location as well. Luckily the faculty of Arts and Social Sciences offered this old common room.”
Books4Life sells second-hand books, both novels and study books, for a low price. The books are given as gifts by libraries, faculties and individuals. The money goes partly to Oxfam Novib and Amnesty International and partly to a small charity project that changes every year. “It has to be a project that’s involved in human rights, although that can be interpreted broadly”, says Marktanner.
The Maastricht book shop is part of a national organisation, with branches in Eindhoven, Tilburg, Amsterdam and elsewhere. It was founded in 2005, and the Maastricht shop opened in 2009. “At the beginning of the year it’s always busy”, says Rebekka Goeke, the shop’s PR manager. “A lot of Erasmus students buy their study books here, because they pay one third of the original price. When they leave, they return the books to us. You can sometimes see the price sticker still on them.”
She and Marktanner were both immediately enthusiastic when they heard about the initiative. “I volunteered in my first year, and now I’m a board member”, says Marktanner. “I like to understand the group dynamics.” “You get to know a lot of people when you work in the shop”, adds Goeke. “It’s a good learning experience too; you really get to understand how a shop works.”
There are now fifteen volunteers, students and people from outside the university. “We work in shifts of two hours. The shop is open from 12.00 until 18.00 on weekdays”, says Marktanner. “We can manage, but we’re always looking for new volunteers.” For now, they hope Books4Life will become more widely known. “We have more space now than when we were stationed in the School of Governance. We hope to host exhibitions and other activities to get people to come in.”