20. October 2014 · Comments Off on Street Books and NY Times Article · Categories: Uncategorized


(Photo taken by Thomas Patterson from the New York Times)

While a lot of libraries are increasingly focusing on increasing their hi-tech capabilities, we should remind ourselves that innovation can also come in the form of low tech style outreach. Such is the case with Street Books, featured in the October 9 article by Kirk Johnson in the New York Times. See http://nyti.ms/1wfTTWU. Street Books is a Portland, Oregon based non-profit that uses the bicycle to deliver books to “people living outside”. The books being delivered are print editions of course. Founder Laura Moulton is described in the article as a “street librarian.” What is interesting to note is that the only resources being used appear to be bicycles, book storage carts attached to the bicycles, the books themselves, the people delivering the books, and the book storage facility. In this service model there is no library building itself, no complex IT developed OPAC style catalog, and no book return policy. Street Books is made up of three salaried employees paid $60 a week for a three hour shift.  One Street Book patron notes that they do not regularly use a traditional library on account of rules, fines, library cards, and fears of losing books. With Street Books there is an honor system which asks that when the reader is done with the book they make it available for someone else to read.

The article begins and ends with Street Books, but does discuss the Multnomah Public Library’s My Librarian program. However, there does not appear to be any link between Street Books and the local public librarian systems. What relationship if any Street Books has with the local public library systems? If anyone out in Portland would like to comment please feel free to do so.

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