Recycling of a different sort

Readers of this blog are undoubtedly aware that there are bookcases at Union Station where commuters can find some reading material for their trip to/from Boston.  We call it the “Give and Take“, though more folks take than give.

Usually it’s books that are on the shelves, since that’s most of what is donated to the Friends of Worcester Public Library.  Many places don’t accept donations of magazines or other media, but these are often perfect for the Union Station bookcase, as a magazine is lightweight and one or two would be ideal to kill some time en route to points east.

Rather than put your magazines in a curbside recycling bin each week, why not save them and donate them to the “Give and Take” at Union Station?  That way, others can enjoy them as well before they’re finally ground up for reuse.  You can bring them there yourself, or if you’re in the greater Worcester area, contact this blog to make arrangements to have them picked up.

A big batch of magazines was donated lat week!

A big batch of magazines was donated last week!

And although not terribly useful on the commute, we’ve had donations of audio cassettes, audio books, CDs, DVDs & VHS videos that, when left on the shelves, are quickly scooped up by travelers, presumably for enjoyment at home.  If you’ve got these sorts of things collecting dust in some corner, gather them up and let us find them a new home!

(And many thanks to Cathy Walsh’s husband Paul for the generous donations to these shelves a few weeks ago!)

The giving and the taking

Thanks to a donor from Natick, the “Give and Take” bookcases at Union Station are full this week:

G and T bookcases

As some of you may recall, the Friends of the Worcester Public Library started this service for commuters two years ago, providing books that they could borrow or keep, so that their train commute might be spent reading.

Lately there’s been much more taking than giving.  Ideally, we’d love to keep these bookcases full all the time with an interesting selection of books, but when fewer people are returning or donating books, the shelves start to look a bit bare.  The volunteers of the Friends of WPL send a few boxes over every week, but sometimes it’s hard to keep those shelves full.

If you have any unwanted books, please consider dropping them off at the Give and Take bookcases on the 2nd floor of Union Station.  (And you can read this post for more ideas for how to help.)

Commuters still giving and taking

Here’s the Union Station Give and Take bookcase on a recent afternoon:

gt1 gt2

Thanks so much to so many of my friends — Cathy Walsh and Kathy Barnard among them — and so many people I’ve met on Craigslist and Freecycle who believe in our project and who’ve given books and magazines.

Thanks to my mother for setting aside all her magazines for the Give and Take bookcase.

Thanks — as always — to the Friends of the Worcester Public Library.

And — if you’re interested in helping — here’s how.

How You Can Help The Give and Take at Union Station

As some of you know, I’ve been working on a project with the Friends of the Worcester Public Library called the Give and Take.  We give away free books at Union Station in Worcester.

We’ve experienced a great deal of success — people are very excited to read the books and magazines we put out.

Unfortunately, as a result of the success, we’re running a bit low on books.

This weekend, I stocked a few shelves with donations from our friends at the HX Library, but we’ll be running low soon again.

Here’s how you can help us keep our shelves stocked:

1) Donate books.  We take all kinds — fiction, non-fiction, children’s, cookbooks, textbooks, religious, inspirational, periodicals.  You name it, people want to read it.

2) If you go to yard sales, let folks who hold yard sales know that the Friends will gladly accept any books or magazines they have left over from their yard sale.  Even books that the library cannot accept (textbooks, condensed books, etc.) can find new life at the Give and Take bookcase.

3) If you see free books offered on Freecycle or the Craigslist Free section, refer folks to me.  I try to monitor both to see when folks are offering a lot of free books, but if you see a bunch, you can send the person my email address and let them know a bit about our project.

4) If you know of venues that might allow us to collect books to distribute, let me know.  Now that summer is winding down, we’re going to start looking at this a bit more.


Give and Take in the news

I’ve been a bit remiss in noting publicity for the Give and Take bookcase at Union Station.

Worcester Mag mentioned us in the WooTown Index a couple weeks back.  (Unfortunately, no link that I know of!)

The Give and Take was featured on the front of the local section of Monday’s Telegram.  In the course of the interview, I met a frequent patron of the bookcase (and the library) and she let me know that children have been especially appreciative of the presence of books.  I feel like the Book Fairy.

The Give and Take was also mentioned quite favorably in a T&G editorial today.

The Friends are actively looking into expanding to other locations.  Keep your suggestions and donations coming!  (And thank you for your support!)

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!