Pearl of the North

Every day, I love Noord blogger Tessa Bouwmeester is drawn to the streetside mini-library she passes. What’s the story behind it? She decides to go and find out.

Hidden between the leaves an entrance into other worlds lingers. Where hero and villain stand side by side and treasures are up for grabs. The mini-libraries created  by local residents along the side the roads are among the many jewels one can find in Noord. The observant passerby can find free books with a great variety of subjects here, from cooking book to classic. The little cabinets hosts around 10-30 books that can be taken and refilled by the owner and people passing by. Part of the magic of the mini-libraries is that they are full of beautifully written stories but also filled with the narratives of their previous owners.

Every morning on my way to the ferry I pass the ‘Noorderkroon’, the mini-library on the Meeuwenlaan. My curiosity tempts me on a daily basis to see inside and scan the titles of the books that the cabinet hosts. Like a horoscope the books seem to match my mood or interest at the moment. Youngsters and elders are all drawn to these little cabinets and I watch them being enchanted by the mysterious books that they scan with their fingertips.
The playful way in which the mini-libraries reunite books and people makes me all the more curious about the stories behind them.


The idea for the ‘Noorderkroon’ was born on the 1st of May 2013, when Herman couldn’t get rid of a box of books he was trying to sell for 25 cents a piece. Giving away these books for free has brought him a lot more books, but also a lot of pleasure ever since. Herman’s face lights up when he talks about the ‘Noorderkroon’, which was made out of two wooden cupboards that were made weather resistant with some varnish. This little library in the shape of a lifeboat became a place where books found a new life in the hands of curious readers.

2000 books at once
The shelves are filled with books donated by neighbourhood residents but maintained mainly by Herman and his wife. They receive large amounts of books from locals and second-hand shops, sometimes even 2000 pieces at once. The books are scanned and stored in their house until there is some free space in the little rescue boat. The remaining few cover every wall with pages, letters run from the ground to the ceiling. The house is supported by the stories it holds.
The initial plan to get rid of some books has obviously failed, but ‘books should never be thrown away’ pledge Herman and his wife blissfully. The most beautiful story that can be found in the mini-library might as well be the story of these two book lovers and their little rescue boat.


The mini-library has been enjoying a small reputation in the neighbourhood. Many pass it on their way to or from the ferry and take pictures as they walk by. The house, the tree house and the little library are a sight to see. Tourists who pass it can also find some books in English, French or other foreign languages. Herman sometimes even receives mail from those who took a book across the globe. Updates on new treasures  and stories of readers can be found on the Facebookpage of the ‘Noorderkroon’ (in Dutch).

The rescue library of Herman is a safe haven for those in search of a story. A place where books and people reconnect through the power of imagination. In short, this pearl is worth passing by!


Thanks to Herman Ten Kate (owner of ‘Noorderkroon’)