Give and Take at Union Station

If you are on the train platform level of Union Station, you may notice something new tucked in the corner:

It’s a bookcase!

A bookcase of free books!

In honor of World Book Day, I am extremely happy to announce the Give and Take, a project of the Friends of the Worcester Public Library.

The Give and Take is a bookcase where you can take a book (and keep it for as long as you want — including forever) and/or drop a book off that you’d like to share with others.

(And — since I couldn’t get a good picture — you’ll have to put up with blurry pictures until I can take better ones.)

This is what the bookcase looked like after a day of operation; it had been jammed full of books, so you can see we’ve had some patrons:

While the Give and Take is sponsored by the Friends, it is not a library — you don’t need a card, you can take as many books as you like, and you never need to return them.

I would like to thank the WRA Board for their approval of this project and the Friends of the Worcester Public Library for their sponsorship of the project.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Join the Friends of the Worcester Public Library
  • Drop off books or magazines at the Give and Take at Union Station
  • If you’re a BookCrossing fanatic, and want to label and post the books on BookCrossing (and list this bookcase as a BookCrossing site), that would help publicize the presence of free books.

The biggest way you can help, though, is by suggesting other venues where the presence of free books might be welcome.

The Friends are actively looking to expand Give and Take to other locations: restaurants, laundromats, coffee shops, athletic clubs, etc.  While there are already lots of places in Worcester where you can pick up free books (like O’Connor’s and Sprout), we’d like to make free books available to as many people as possible.

So, if you know of a venue that might be willing to host a small bookcase (2 shelves), let me know.

(And if you have a small bookcase you might be willing to donate to the cause, let me know as well.)

In case folks were interested, here’s some of the inspiration behind the project; many of these ideas were forwarded to me by various readers:

There are various communities who have books available for free in transit stations (like Wimbledon Station; I love the poster they use) or who have small library branches in train or subway stations (like Madrid or New York City).  I used to be a frequent commuter to Boston, and tended to read a book (or sleep) on the way in and read a copy of my favorite newspaper (that another commuter left on a seat) on the way home.  As long as there are trains and buses, there will always be a need for reading material at a station.

There are also some communities who distribute books in laundromats.  This is a huge inspiration for me; since we eliminated many of our branch libraries twenty years ago, many areas of the city could use areas where books are easily available.  Laundromats are a great way to reach all ages and ethnicities.

I am also inspired by the Free Little Libraries movement (recently featured in USA Today).  [I'm so cynical I can only look at those little bookhouses and think "perfect for contraband!" -- but I think the concept is a really cute one.]

I’ll try to post more pictures later in the week and post updates about the progress of the Union Station Give and Take and other locations.

Thanks so much for all your support, everyone!