The Mobile Library that Serves Those Who Live Outside [VIDEO]

An art-project turned non-profit brings literary respite to the homeless.

Jul 25, 2016

When a person living on the street wants to read a good book, they can just go to the library and borrow one like everyone else, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. Most libraries require some form of identification and a permanent address before issuing a library card. Since people without a home usually lack both of these things, they are essentially unable to enjoy even this small pleasure.

For writer and artist Laura Moulton of Portland, Oregon, this wasn’t acceptable. In 2011, she founded Street Books, a bicycle-powered, mobile library, serving people who live on the streets of Portland and making sure that they too, have access to literature.

“Being recognized and spoken to on the street and offered a book for someone who has really been struggling can be a really powerful thing,” Moulton told NationSwell. “Books have the power to have us feel empathy and have us experience the thrill of a journey of someone else.”

What started as a one-woman operation is now a well-run organization, available to the homeless community of Portland at seven different locations, four days a week. Patrons are issued an official library card without the need to show proof of address or identification and books are checked out with an old-school library pocket and card system. To date, Street Books has made the pleasure of reading possible for more than 5,000 people, many of which have become regulars.

The project was only meant to run for one summer, but after seeing the impact it had on people’s lives, Moulton said she simply had to continue. “It felt like momentum and support had been building, and so I decided to keep it going,” she explains.

Street Books has become a source of inspiration, hope, and comfort for those without a home - and will hopefully continue to be for years to come.

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David has a passion for languages and words, and loves to see people happy. He writes about inspiring ideas, amazing technologies and all the wonders of the world.