Founded in June, 2011, Street Books is a bicycle-powered mobile library, serving people who live outside in Portland, Oregon. Patrons are issued an official Street Books library card without being required to show proof of address or identification. We use an old-school library pocket and a card that patrons sign and leave with us. During our shifts, patrons stop by to check out and return library books. They are invited to be photographed with their book, and these photos and stories are collected at the Patrons page.
Early on, naysayers said that the books wouldn’t be returned. To be honest, we didn’t know whether or not this was true. We decided to operate the library on the assumption that people living outside have more pressing concerns than returning a library book, and that every time a return came in, it would be cause for celebration. Years later, we have a solid rate of return among our regular patrons, and those who can't return the books (due to rain damage or theft), often seek us out to tell us why they can't. We are committed to providing good literature, and conversations about literature, for those who are pushed to the margins. Since June 2011, we have checked out thousands of paperbacks in all genres, from sci-fi to romance to memoir. James Patterson to Jeanette Walls to Flannery O’Connor and Stephen King. Street Books continues to foster engagement between our patrons and the housed community, and good books and conversations form the bridge.