Baynetna. Between us.

The New Library.

von Ines Kappert

Cover und Brief
Left side: Cover “The Lady from Tel-Aviv” by Rabai Al-Madhoun. Right side: Walaa Kharamanda’s letter, about her relation to the book.

“I’m Walaa Kharamanda. When I came to Germany I couldn’t bring my books. Meanwhile I have 5 books again and I would like to give you one them as a gift. It’s a beautiful novel about exile. It talks about two persons, one Palestinian and one Israeli, about their relationship and the pain to be in exile. Instead of talking about the conflict only, it’s telling us the small human details about people. As Syrians we can feel today the pain of being in exile, too.” – Walaa Kahramanda, Journalist and Feminist, publishing regularly in “Abwab” (Doors) Berlin, April 2016.

Baynetna. The New Library is a Salon and Library seeks to open up Arabic and Western culture to each other. Learning about traditions and everyday life with family and friends is a wonderful way of moving beyond seeing people as ‘others’ and instead discovering the things we share, such as humanness.

Talking about novels, poems or non-fiction together always involves thinking beyond the prevailing circumstances as well as beyond ourselves, as books not only provide us with fresh information but also allow us to live a different life for a while.

However, most of the people coming to live in Germany have had to leave their favourite books behind. Baynetna offers them an opportunity to borrow Arabic, English and German books. People are also free to come and read in the library itself, as Baynetna is intended to be a lovely place to come and enjoy reading with a cup of tea or coffee or attend the events in the evening.

It is equally important that established Berliners learn about Arabic literature, that they have an opportunity to share ideas and experiences with people who have grown up with these books and who love this literature.

Which books can you find in Baynetna. The New Library?

We’re asking well-known and lesser-known bibliophiles from the Arabic and European worlds to send us their favourite books. (Great interest is being shown, even from Arabic publishing houses). We will be translating these bibliophiles’ explanations about why they love a particular book and why it belongs in The New Library, and sticking the translations inside the books. This way, everyone borrowing a book will know who already loves it and why.

Who can borrow a book?

Anyone who loves books, irrespective of his or her legal status. It costs EUR 2 to borrow a book for three weeks. Borrowers pay EUR 25 however, with the difference paid back when books are returned. This method makes it possible to repurchase books that get lost.

Readings, translation workshops, text work

The library will be hosting reading events. The aim is for an Arabic author to be introduced by a German bibliophile and vice-versa.

We will be inviting translation, publishing and media professionals to workshops to give newcomers a rundown of the inner workings of the German book industry. We will also be giving long-time Berliners the chance to learn about Arabic authors and literature that have yet to be discovered here.

Who is organising and supporting the library?

Baynetna is a project run by Muhannad Qaiconie and Ines Kappert.

Muhannad Qaiconie comes from Syria where he studied English literature. He came to Germany across the Mediterranean Sea and has been living here for eight months. He intends to continue his study of art and social science at Bard College, Berlin, in the autumn of 2016.

Ines Kappert is a doctor of literary criticism and a long-term editor of the taz newspaper. She currently runs the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation’s Gunda-Werner-Institute for Feminism and Gender Democracy.

Team and Partner: Ali Hasan (Musician), Rabee Azraee (Master in Agriculture), Dana M. Haddad (Technische University Berlin), Maher Khwis (Manager of the Publishing House Khtwat (Steps).

Baynetna. Between Us. The New Library is supported by the Heinrich-Böll Foundation’s Gunda Werner Institute, the “Wir machen das” action alliance and the büro für kulturelle angelegenheiten. Mediasponsor will be Abwab (Doors), the first arabic newspaper in Germany (65.000 copies). Personal supporters are Joumana Seif, Sadik al Azm, Elisabeth Ruge (Elisabeth Ruge Agentur).

A library service for newcomers as well as established residents can work anywhere. After all, books can make people happy, irrespective of where and when they start living together.


We’re still looking for a suitable location for the library and welcome any ideas.
Contact: Ines Kappert