The Travelling Suitcase Library Manifesto

Over the last six months I have had a lot of requests from people wanting to know the best way to start their own book swaps or if they too can have a Travelling Suitcase Library. To that I say- Go For It! I didn't start this for profit or personal gain, and anything that gets more people reading, and talking about what they're reading in a open and social way is a Good Thing.

However, I am very concerned that people might think that they can say they run a Travelling Suitcase Library, and make money from the scheme, or benefit in some other way that does not fit in with the ethos of the original project.

With this in mind, I have come up with the following 'manifesto' (I'm thinking more avant-guarde than political party here) which I would ask that anyone wishing to start a Travelling Suitcase Library reads, and signs, before attaching the name to their project.

Any questions, or anything you think I've got hideously wrong, as usual, just let me know.


1.The Travelling Suitcase Library must provide as wide a range of books that can fit into a suitcase. There must be no discrimination shown between genre, literary style or format. For ease, the word ‘book’ used in this manifesto refers to any printed text made available through the Travelling Suitcase Library.

2.The Travelling Suitcase Library must not actively promote any racist, sexist, transphobic or cissexist, homophobic, ablest, classist or fatist attitudes in the material it provides, however freedom of speech should never be compromised. Any books that display such attitudes that end up in the suitcase must be swapped with discretion and trigger warnings given if this is appropriate.

3.The Travelling Suitcase Library must be free. There must never be any membership, signing fee, fines, or any other financial reward for providing the service.

4.The Travelling Suitcase Library must go to as wide a range of events and locations as possible. The Travelling Suitcase Library may accept complimentary entrance to an event, but must in return promote that event in some way. The Travelling Suitcase Library must make it clear in promotional material that the event charges an entrance fee.

5.The Travelling Suitcase Library must use second hand books. All books must come from donations, second hand shops, charity shops, library sales, or other events.

6.Any books donated to the Travelling Suitcase Library from publishing houses should be included, but in no way promoted. No one book should be promoted above another, as the focus should be on finding the right book for the individual.

7.The Travelling Suitcase Library must promote reading for pleasure at all times.

8.The Travelling Suitcase Library must never impeach upon any public or educational library. Any one looking for a particular book must be encouraged to go to their public library first. The Travelling Suitcase Library must fight against any public library closures.

9.The Travelling Suitcase Library must be an environmentally friendly as possible. If a bus is available, a bus must be used over a car, for example.

10.The Travelling Suitcase Library does not necessarily have to be in a suitcase, though it probably makes more sense if it is!

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