Thursday, July 7, 2011

Helping Portland's Mobile Library

We were so moved by the article in last week's Oregonian about Laura Moulton and her Street Books project! If you missed the article, here's a link to it. Street Books is a pedal-powered mobile library serving Portland's homeless population. It is open Wednesdays at Skidmore Fountain and Saturdays in the South Park Blocks. To get a library card with the Multnomah County Library System, you must have a regular address, but patrons of the Street Books mobile library are issued a card with just their name, and Laura keeps track of what books are borrowed and returned and what books are requested.

Laura originally began this project through an "art as social practice" grant, which she defines as art that has an interactive, public component -- that creates a person-to-person exchange -- and often, though not necessarily, serves a public good. Her mobile library gives access to readers who previously had no way to borrow books. And she's paying attention to her clients by actively searching out requested titles.

One of the sentences that most caught our eye in the article was this: "She pulls out a display drawer holding about 50 carefully chosen books." And there's the key: carefully chosen books. Not tons of books donated by people just cleaning out their shelves, but an inventory that matches the needs of the population that uses it.

How cool is that?  And how can we help? Our answer: a Broadway Books Gift Certificate, to be spent on whatever books Laura needs. So we've donated a Broadway Books Gift Certificate, and Laura will spend it in the best possible way.

We're hoping that this donation will start a ball rolling, and that some of our customers will want to make the same gesture. If you want to send Laura Moulton a Broadway Books Gift Certificate to help supply Street Books you can easily order BB Gift Certificates -- by coming to the store, calling the store (503-284-1726) or ordering them on our new website.We can give you the certificate to send to Laura, or you can leave it here for her to pick up (and spend).

What a unique and creative project! And how easy it is to become involved in it.  Thank you, Laura Moulton, for finding a need and attending to it.

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