Think Differently Book Exchange

July 2011 – 2019

Sunday afternoon live music at the Pallet Pavilion. Photo courtesy of Glen Jansen

Project Description

The Think Differently Book Exchange is a public book exchange located inside a recycled fridge on Barbadoes St. It has been running since Sunday 17 July 2011. In late 2019 we gifted the book exchange to Piko Wholefoods, the new owners of the land. Piko will care for the book exchange until they are ready to develop their land in the future. 

This project is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, public book exchange, with the ‘Think Differently’ moniker intended to attract books which readers/exchangers have found life-changing and challenging. Built into an unassuming recycled fridge on an empty section on Barbadoes Street, the exchange has proven to be a popular resource for both locals and tourists.

The idea for this book exchange was suggested by Sarah Gallagher, a librarian who had seen a project of a similar nature done in the UK. We adapted the concept, suggesting the ‘Think Differently’ constraint and wishing to explore the theatrical possibilities of placing a large refrigerator on a vacant site. Rather than place signs telling the viewer what this site was about, Ryan hoped to create a space which drew people in, leading to the use of yellow pavers as stepping stones for example.

The Book Exchange has shown its resilience through a number of setbacks. It was pushed over and one panel of glass broken in October, 2011, and suffered two further push-overs in its first year. The fridge was adapted with a stake at its back to stabilise it, and the glass doors were replaced with perspex. Nearly all of the books were stolen from the fridge twice, but the exchange continued with new books replacing the stolen ones. Sometimes the site has been used for other second goods people have dumped there such as boxes of household goods, a sofa or two and more! The local community responded to all acts of violence and theft quickly, showing how important the fridge has become, and continues to be.

Thanks to all the volunteers and readers who have made this project possible!