Rachel Bracker, Sybile Penhirin, Sean Ryon

Street Books: This Library on Wheels Brings Great Reads to People Living Outside

Meet the professor who founded a mobile library to make sure isolated communities have access to literature and stimulating conversations.

For the past five years, Laura Moulton has spent her days in underserved areas of Portland, Ore., lending books to people living on the fringes of society.

Those living outside or in temporary shelters are usually barred from borrowing books from regular libraries because they lack the required documentation (such as identification or a home address) to get a library card. Additionally, their everyday lives often make it hard for them to return books in good conditions and on time, triggering hefty fines and dissuading them from the practice, Moulton, an artist and writing professor, explains.

In 2011, she launched Street Books, a bike-powered, mobile library to ensure the homeless communities has 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 says. “Books have the power to have us feel empathy and have us experience the thrill of a journey of someone else”.

So far, Street Books have served more than 5,000 patrons, many of which have become regulars.

Discover more about Street Books and its patrons by watching the video above.