Moscow metro opens virtual library of Russian classical literature

Novels by Pushkin, Chekhov and Tolstoy available for free download by commuters

in Moscow. The Guardian, Monday 3 November 2014

Its design is already hailed as a masterpiece of modern art, now Moscow’s metro system is increasing its cultural credentials by opening a virtual library of Russian classical literature.

More than 100 canonical Russian books have been made available for commuters to download for free on train platforms, where scanning a code with a smartphone or tablet allows users to browse the library’s virtual shelves.

The selection, which includes novels by Russian giants such as Pushkin, Chekhov and Tolstoy, will be available to the 2,490 million passengers travelling on the metro each year. A similar project has already been run on 700 of the city’s buses, trams and trolleybuses.

“The idea is excellent,” said 37-year old Tanya Kerekelitsa. ”It’s so convenient to use on the metro because you don’t need to register. The choice is still pretty limited for now, but if they can add some modern or foreign authors, it will be just great. I’d even be willing to pay a little bit of money.”

The full library service is already online, but the project is currently only being advertised in a few of Moscow’s 195 metro stations for a trial run, before being rolled out city-wide.

Muscovites are being encouraged to suggest new books to add to the collection – if you have a suggestion tell us in the comments below.

Moscow’s commuters are no strangers to high culture, with previous projects including the installation of miniature art galleries on underground trains. The latest digital aspect is set to coincide with the installation of free wifi on all metro carriages by the end of 2014.

The electronic takeover however, is not to everyone’s taste. “I prefer paper books,” said 35 year-old politics teacher Ilya Chipiga, “but everyone likes different things. You can’t keep everyone happy.

“Some people will like these serious, classic books, some people won’t. The main thing really is to just get people reading.”

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