As the world celebrates Literacy Week from 8th to the 15th September, I decided I would join the fun. Literacy is the ability to read so I wanted to tell you about a few quirky yet amazing initiatives for all the bibliophiles out there!
Do you love your books enough to let them go? Do you love the message in them enough for it to travel far and wide and give joy to other people? That is the premise BookCrossing is based on. It is an online community of book lovers who leave their books in public places to be picked up and read by others and send the book on its own journey. So many of our books just sit on our bookshelves catching dust, never to be picked up again. BookCrossing provides an innovative distribution channel for our books. You label the book with a unique BCID you want to pass on, leave it in a public place, essentially releasing it in the wilderness of literary space, and wait for someone to catch the book, read it and pay it forward. The best part, you can see the incredible journey your book has which makes you feel so much better about letting your book go. To date over 850,000 active BookCrossers have collectively registered almost 7 million books which are traveling around 130 countries! Germany leads the way with almost 10,000 books released waiting to be caught!
Streetbooks brings the joys of reading to people living on the periphery. They may be homeless, jobless, immigrants, or wandering nomadic souls looking for a new adventure or ordinary people looking for their next read. It is a bicycle-powered mobile library where books are available to check out and return based on an old-school card and nothing more. Operating in Portland, Oregon, Streetbooks has an extremely high book-return rate, and if a book is not returned, borrowers seek out librarian Laura Moulton and apologize for any damage done to the books defying all the naysayers.
Finally, there’s L.A. based artist Mike Stilkey who paints on books. His work is astounding. His paintings are whimsical and he’s found an extremely unusual way to re-purpose books!
You’d be amazed at how many books are thrown out. I like the idea of reusing all of these discarded items as canvases for my work. I even asked the library up the street from my house if they had any books that they were getting rid of, and they said no. When I explained to them how I use them, they gave me access to a huge dumpster in the back parking lot of the library. The dumpster was filled with thousands and thousands of books. – Mike Stilkey