Remember that time you were given a book for Christmas from your grandmother? And instead of reading it, you just let it gather dust on your shelf. Or that time you read a book, and then didn't know what to do with it afterwards, so you just tucked it away in deep storage.

Imagine if something good could come from that book. 

Imagine if those who are enjoying their time in the park could grab a book from a biodegradable, portable bookshelf, where donated books lay in wait. 

Our cardboard bookshelf is intended to shelve donated books from individuals, and allow them to be reused for the enjoyment of others. Not only is the bookshelf itself recycled from cardboard, but also the books are recycled from previous readers.


We plan to construct a bookshelf out of recycled cardboard, capable of holding books in a public space for passerby's to read and enjoy. We recognised 2 problems in the community:

1. Books are rarely recycled and reused. Often they just are shelved on a personal bookshelf, being read by only one person.

2. Public spaces such as parks have a distinct lack of recreational activities and services. Something like a public bookshelf could spark interests in literature within the community, and give individuals some way to pass time if needed. 

We recognise that a public bookshelf is prone to theft, however we thought that considering all books would be donated, finding a new home (even by theft) would be a better alternative than simply leaving a book in your shelf. 

 10:30am Day 1:

Our plan is coming along well. I have drawn up the design for the bookshelf, and we have found a variety of boxes in the school recycling containers. We have decided to cut out circles of cardboard, to be used as a Lego-like connection between shelf units. We will also need to ask the Tech department for some glue, in order to attach these circular connection pieces to the shelves. 

Photo credit: Stavros Dedes






2:30pm Day 1:

We have run into a few difficulties with our 'Lego-piece' connections. The depth of the circles was not great enough to provide any structural support, meaning that the boxes would fall over easily. As a result, we have decided to increase the depth of the circles, meaning that 3-4 circles will be connected together with tape. This will increase the structural stability, allowing multiple bookshelf units to be attached or detached at will. This is a more flexible design, and can be cutomised to different areas/environments.

We have also realised that if we leave this bookshelf in an open space, it will likely be damaged with rain. Due to this, we are planning on waterproofing our bookshelf tomorrow. 


10:30am Day 2:

Our bookshelf design and structure is now finished. We now plan to waterproof the bookshelf, and paint it for aesthetic purposes. We have brought in a candle to use the wax in order to waterproof. We will melt the wax with a bunsen burner, and coat the surface of the cardboard with the melted wax. The hydrophobic properties of the wax (non-polar fatty-acid carbon chains in the chemical structure) prevents water from destroying the cardboard.



 12:30pm Day 2:

 We have now completed our biodegradable, recycled, water-resistant, public bookshelf. It has the strength to hold a large quantity of books, and is sturdy enough to cope in the rain or in wind. Overall, the project was quite successful, and achieved our goals. If we were to improve anything for next time, we would try to make the bookshelf larger, and reinforce the shelf for strength purposes. The project was quite a fulfilling and memorable team experience, and although we faced several obstacles, we were able to effectively tackle them and improve our project as a result.