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India Edwards

welfare, community & diversity

give a book a home

From next week, the SU will be installing bookcases full of free books around Union House.

Reading for pleasure is important. It reduces stress, promotes wellbeing and generally makes you more empathic, understanding, and self-aware as a person. There’s even studies that suggest that reading for pleasure can reduce the symptoms of depression, and make you less likely to develop dementia in later life.

The problem is that reading is becoming an activity which is increasingly inaccessible for students. The library is great, but has limited stock of general fiction, and students are becoming less and less able to afford their course texts, let alone new books for pleasure. 

So, my idea is simple: give out books for free.

Over the last month, I’ve been asking students to donate unwanted books to a ‘book swap’ box, and the response from you all has been overwhelming. From ratty old classics to biographies, from Nicholas Sparks to Dickens – many of you have cleaned out your bookshelves in the hope that someone else would benefit from your donations.

In the next few weeks, you’ll see three new bookcases appearing upstairs in Union House – two near the SU office and one in Scholar’s Bar. These will be filled with the donations I’ve collected, and all students will be welcome to help themselves. Whether you just need something to read on a lunchbreak or want to take one away, you’re welcome to have a browse.

Obviously, my stock of donations won’t last forever. That’s why I’m asking that the students who use these shelves to replenish them. Whether this means bringing back the book once you’re done with it, or operating a ‘take one, leave one’ policy – this scheme will only work with your help.

I’m also putting a call out to academics. On several occasions, I’ve walked the halls of ARTS to see boxes with ‘FREE BOOKS’ written on one side, where staff have had a clear-out. I’m asking them to donate anything they think students might enjoy to these shelves – so if you know anyone who’s having a clear-out, let them know!

To get involved with ideas, comments and suggestions, please email me at


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