Sunday, June 19, 2016

Street Books: Providing Books to Those Who Can't Afford Them

Reading is one of the greatest pleasures of life - and no one should be deprived of the opportunity of reading books and discussing them with their fellow readers - even people living on the streets.

And a mobile library called Street Books is on the streets of Portland, Oregon, to make sure that anyone wanting a book to read has one or two of them whenever they want them.  According to OregonLive (and The Orgonian), the five-year-old organization is doing better this year than ever before:
Each summer for the past five years, the small nonprofit has delivered paperbacks to people living on the streets of Portland. Staffers pedal two custom bicycles around the city to spread books and conversation. 
But now, with the number of homeless people in Portland swelling, and with camps increasingly visible, Street Books is growing. 
This summer, its number of paid librarians has doubled, bringing the total to six. Street Books is covering more ground, too.
On a recent Thursday, as Street Books' sixth season of distributing books was beginning, many people were just discovering the mobile library.
Rempe, who's trained as a community psychologist, offered every passerby outside St. Francis a friendly hello and a question: "Looking for something to read?"
She explained the rules to newcomers: Take a book or two. Keep them as long as you need. Come back to the bicycle and return them when you're done. And it's OK if you can't return a book. There are no fines. 
One of the coolest things about this whole project is that even though the librarians don't worry about losing books (and make it clear that it's OK not to return them), most patrons of the little mobile library are determined to return the books so that others can read them, too.  

As Street Books librarian Diana Rempe puts it, "People on the street are complicated, just like the people who live inside."


  1. Replies
    1. Me, too...readers are some of the kindest and most sharing people in the entire world, I think.

  2. When I give away books I just know they will eventually be read and reread. Projects like these just warm my heart! And it's a reason to keep donating to book charities.

    1. Totally agree. For the last few years, I've been passing a lot of mine on to an assisted living facility my father lives at...and they are snapped up in minutes and then recycled for a long, long time within the building.