Interested Bystanders

Good News!

Street Books is ramping up for summer #5 (!), and we have good news to share: We are thrilled to announce that  Barb and Joel at Splendid Cycles have donated a shiny, new & fully built-up Bullitt cargo bike to Street Books, to help us expand our reach in the city, and keep our operation going, rain or shine. The talented Jeff Lauten at Badger Bikes will build us a beautiful, water-tight box.  Though we dearly love our first bike, (pictured below, with Street Librarian Redd Moon), we recognize the wisdom in having a second bike that is less creaky, and can go farther, faster. We are  so thankful for the donation. Street Books launches the summer shifts on June 2. Stay tuned for more details.

In the meantime, tune in to KBOO's Bike Show  this Wednesday (May 6), to hear an interview with Street Librarian Diana Rempe & Street Books board member & Inventory Specialist, Ben Hodgson. Ben is bound to work in a few bad puns.


Street Books Fall News

There's a nice write-up about Street Books by Peter Barnes in the fall issue of The Magazine, Eastern Washington's alumni publication. We had a really wonderful reception on September 17th in the Atrium Gallery, in downtown Portland. We ate good, warm food, and listened to street librarians and patrons tell stories. Also in attendance were Commissioner Amanda Fritz and the mayor's Chief of Staff, Gail Shibley. We appreciate the fact that they would make time in their busy schedules to attend our party.

The weather has been blustery lately, but our street librarians plan to continue running shifts into the first part of October, as the weather allows. Then we'll use some of the wettest months to get our library in order and to partner with great agencies like Sisters of the Road. Upcoming events and news will be posted here.

Big thanks to everyone who has donated books or funds to our project. We are doing well, and it's because of your support.

Bit Hates Going to Cardboard

The writer Jess Walter recently donated some of his books to the Street Books library. The first story in his collection, We Live in Water, is called "Anything Helps,"  and it starts like this:  Bit hates going to cardboard. But he got tossed from the Jesus beds for drunk and sacrilege, and he's got no other way to get money. So he's up behind Frankie Doodles, flipping through broken-down produce boxes like an art buyer over a rack of paintings, and when he finds a piece without stains or writing, he rips it down until it's square.  It's a great story, and we thank Jess for taking the time to get us books. The new summer 2013 shifts are underway, and the weather is more than cooperating. Tune in here for stories and updates, and as always, we thank you for your support of Street Books.


Street Books Featured on The Big Read

Thanks to Rebecca Gross with the National Endowment for the Arts, who interviewed us at Street Books this past week. Check us out on their great blog, The Big Read. Thanks again, Rebecca! In other Street Books news, this past Wednesday was a very fine shift, with none of the rain the weather-folks had predicted. In fact we had some golden sunshine by the end of the shift. Mama Chewy is wicked addicted to the Harry Potter series, and I'm searching for a copy of books #3 and #4 (Prisoner of Askaban & Goblet of Fire). It was Mark's birthday on Wednesday, and he requested 2 Ray Bradbury titles (his favorite), I Sing the Body Electric and R is for Rocket. For those of you who attended the Street Books reception in September, you'll remember Mark as the speaker who talked about how he'd met Ray Bradbury as a young man, and how powerfully the author's work had affected him.

I didn't take any pictures during the shift -- felt like just talking with people. But I'll tell you instead of show you: Chris, a young man wrapped in an army blanket with ice blue eyes and a pierced nose took Jimmy Baca's memoir, A Place to Stand. Melissa took Trace & Hex in the City. Tony took a Louis L'Amour called Comstock Lode. There were others I didn't write down, patrons who are my Old Faithfuls, and newcomers who paused to peruse books and digest the idea of a street library. A woman named Joanne brought a giant box of paperback books to donate. We are grateful. Thanks to all of you who read this blog, and happy autumn to you.

Tavern Books Pays a Visit

We had the pleasure of meeting Natalie from Tavern Books, when she came down to visit the street library and donate a bag of poetry to Street Books. Tavern Books is a not-for-profit literary publisher, but they have several different projects going. One of them is called Poetry State, and its aim is to "build and sustain poetry collections in Oregon libraries." Natalie brought us carefully selected titles that include local hero-poet Carlos Reyes and former Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser, as well as an anthology of African American poetry and more. We are grateful for the gift, and know that our patrons will appreciate the poetry. Thanks again, Tavern Books! 20121023-124514.jpg

AB Returns

A.B. Lewis, security guard extraordinaire, & long-time Street Books supporter, stopped by for a visit at our Skidmore Fountain shift. A.B. was our very first visitor a year ago, in June, when he asked this street librarian for a permit. After I told him we didn't sell books, but were a library for people living outside, he got behind the project in a big way. In fact, all last summer, if he saw people loitering in the square holding a bag of books to donate, or looking to return one to our library, he'd stop to talk with them, and tell them when we'd be back for a shift. By the end of the summer, I offered to get A.B. a book, any request, as thanks for his support. On Wednesday he told me that he still had the book I'd gotten for him, and that it had started to bother him that he'd never returned it. I expect we'll see him soon with a return. In the meantime, great to see you again, old friend. 20120715-184037.jpg

Adversity Creates Men

"Prosperity creates monsters.  That's Victor Hugo," Steve told me.  "I'd like to think I'm a good man, there are enough monsters."  He was very interested in Street Books, and though he didn't take a book with him, we stood and talked for a good half hour while I tended to the library.  He said his mother had rubella while pregnant with him, and that he is blind in his right eye and has 20/200 vision in his left.  He is an inventor, who designed the spectacles that help him with his voracious reading habit.

Author Mark Sundeen Visits Street Books

Sundeen was on tour in Portland with his most recent book, The Man Who Quit Money. In it, he tells the story of Daniel Suelo, a man who stopped using money back in 2000, and who has lived mostly outside since, creating meals from dumpsters and living off the land. Both Sundeen and Suelo traveled with the book, and they were pleased to get a huge crowd at Powells on Hawthorne.Mark Sundeen made time to visit the Street Books library shift, and signed donated copies of his books. We thank him very much, and wish him and Daniel Suelo the best on their journey.


It Takes a Village to Run a Street Library...

Even though Street Books is not affiliated with Portland's own Multnomah County Library, there are plenty of opportunities to cross paths. Geoff Brunk from Outreach Services donated great books to us over the summer, and Jane from the Central Library came by for a visit. I've occasionally returned Multnomah county library books when they come my way through Street Books, and just this past week, I discovered that the library had done a "Courtesy Return" of one of my books  by sending it to our PO. Here's to libraries big & small working together. 20120404-131209.jpg

Nine Simple Patterns

For Complicated Women. That's the name of Mary Rechner's stellar debut collection of short stories, and we are grateful for her recent donation of a copy to the Street Books library. Mary joins other authors who have contributed to the project, including Anthony Doerr, poet Matthew Dickman, Ben Parzybok, Peter Rock and Alisa Christensen. If you are an author who would like to contribute a book to the library, please contact us at: . 20120321-121731.jpg

Chelsea Made a B-Line to Right2Dream

B-line is a sustainable delivery system that serves the urban core, (on bicycle). When they're not making deliveries for local businesses, B-line gleans from grocery stores like Whole Foods and donates it to places like the Right2Dream rest area. Think Dave's Killer Bread & cold green grapes, among other things. Gotta love the treasures that can be found in boxes moved by bicycles. 20120311-201829.jpg

It's a Small World

Mark is a military veteran who moved to Portland four months ago.  He came from Florida, but we both had a chuckle over our common link:  Middletown, Ohio.  Mark was raised in Middletown and I spent many days of my youth visiting my grandparents on the very street on which Mark's parents had rental property.  He didn't take a book today, though I issued him a Street Books library card. And he made a donation.  Thanks, Mark!

Alisa Donated Her Memoir to Street Books

In Gimp: Surviving Your Survival, former stuntwoman Alisa Christensen tells the story of injuries she sustained from a fire, and how that experience has shaped her life after. It is a powerful story, and she is a hell of a story-teller. She is a part of Portland Burn Survivors, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping burn survivors "lead happy and rewarding lives." We met outside the Right2Dream Too rest area, when she stopped by the street library for a visit. Thanks for the contribution of your book, Alisa.