The world's largest floating bookstore - the Logos Hope - with a crew of 400 volunteers from 60 nations Thursday opened its doors to the public to offer books on a large assortment of subjects. The vessel has visited over 1,400 ports in 150 countries worldwide. Most recently, she stopped at Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata in Argentina.
The subjects available include science fiction, classics, cooking, the arts, social sciences, sports, religion and a broad collection of children’s books available in English and Portuguese for the occasion.
The books sell for between 10-30 reais (US$2.50-US$7.50) with over 800,000 units in store to meet the highest demand thinkable.
During the ship’s stay until Oct. 6 in the city’s central port, the public will also be able to enjoy exhibits and shows on board and attend theater productions staged inside the vessel.
With the traditional ribbon-cutting, Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella on Thursday officially kicked off this original project for the first visitors and/or customers, including Sandra Marcarelli, a teacher who said that she considers the project to be a contribution to education.
“I’m enjoying it a lot. There’s quite a good variety and I think it can serve different publics, including children, whom I think it will help a lot. I find (this project) very good and think it’s going to be a big contribution to our children’s education,” she said.
Although it’s a floating bookstore that sails the seven seas and has welcomed more than 46 million visitors, the objective of the Logos Hope goes beyond that to “share knowledge, help and hope” at every port of call, Juliana Medina, one of the volunteers working on board, told EFE.
A 19-year-old Colombian, Juliana decided to postpone her university studies in economics and set sail on the Logos Hope after encountering the bookstore in one of the cities in her native country.
“I got to know about the project when the Logos was at Santa Marta,” she said, adding that after a year on board the ship she has visited the main ports of Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and now Brazil.
The aim of the vessel and crew is to provide humanitarian aid via donations of books, eyeglasses and water filters, but also to provide educational workshops that respond to the needs of local communities.
Although the project was launched in 1970, the Logos Hope is the fourth vessel to house the floating library. The ship – operated by GBA Ships, a non-profit Christian organization based in Germany, weighs 12 tons, is 21 meters (69 feet) wide and 132 meters long.
On its nine decks, the boat provides not only the bookstore, but also a coffee shop, a dining room, a 350-seat theater and even a school, because some of the volunteers on board are families and there are currently 28 children who must be schooled sailing with their parents.
Each day, the galley prepares 1,500 meals for the 400 crewmembers, who pay for their room and board with their own resources or through sponsors’ donations. The volunteers remain on board from three months to two years.
The ship arrived in Brazil on Aug. 24 en route from Argentina and was docked through Sept. 15 at the port of Santos, and after its stay in Rio the vessel will continue to Vitoria, Salvador and Belem, ultimately leaving Brazil on Nov. 28.