Friday, June 29, 2007

Books and Buses

A two-day book project that the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority is running makes me wonder if something like this would work on other large city bus routes on a regular basis. The folks in Tulsa have come up with 3,000 children's books and they are distributing the books to bus passengers as they ride around the city of Tulsa. Riders are encouraged to read a book on the bus and, if they like, to take a book home with them.

(Karen Healey looks through some of the books made available to Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority bus passengers.)

A program to get books in the hands of children made a rainy day a little brighter for passengers on city buses Thursday.

Caring for Kids Book by Book, a Bank of Oklahoma literacy program, joined with the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority to distribute 3,000 books collected at Bank of Oklahoma branches during June.

"We're running out of books. It's been very popular," said William Cartwright, Tulsa Transit's general manager.

Donated children's books, most of them new, were placed on fixed-route buses, which serve about 9,000 passengers each day.

A sign behind the driver's seat instructed people to take a book and read it while they rode or to take it home and keep it.
Public transportation and books make a perfect mix. All it would take is a little effort and publicity to collect a few thousand books to be placed in boxes on buses, train cars and underground cars where people could easily get to them as they ride to their final destination. Passengers could be encouraged to add to the books in the box by placing their own book discards there for others to enjoy. Knowing book lovers the way that I know them, I can't help but think that the book supply would start to regenerate itself to the point where "seed books" would only have to be added every so often. After all, book lovers struggle to find a place for all the books they accumulate and they can't bear to toss them out. What better way to keep books in circulation than to place them in an environment that encourages reading to pass the time?

I'm sure that transit authorities everywhere will have a dozen reasons not to do something like this but I can't imagine anything simpler and cheaper that would put more smiles on faces than this. It's the little things that make this a better world for all of us.


  1. I'm sure there are lots of good reasons that it wouldn't work in the real world, but in my dream world every public transportation system in the world would have a box of books from which to choose. :-)

  2. I used to live in Tulsa, and I'm so pleased with and proud of my former city. It wouldn't be any hardship to live there again, if I had the opportunity.

  3. Someone in Tulsa certainly had a cool idea, that's for sure. I hope it spreads to other communities.