It was last fall when the old yellowish green newspaper box showed up on Grant Street in front of Sweet_ness 7 Cafe. It looked pretty battered, but just the same there was a story to tell – a story that would would lead to many more stories as winter turned to spring. The box turned out to be a Free Book Exchange. As far as anyone can tell, the person that dropped it off never stopped in to tell anyone at the coffee chop that it was there… or how it should be used. Of course the name of the program is a good clue as to how it should work, but at the same time, would people know to drop off an old book at the same time that they were picking one up? An honest exchange?
This miniature library is open year ’round, no matter the time of day or the type of weather. Upon flipping open the lid, you will find that there are plenty of books to choose from (a surprise in itself). I spoke to a barista at the cafe who told me that he has found some books inside that he has had the pleasure of reading. At the same time he has dropped off some of a couple of books that he has already read. “A lot of people use it,” he told me. “Sometimes someone takes a book and doesn’t leave one behind. Other times someone just drops off a couple of books. Most of the time it works like it’s supposed to.”
The last time I checked, there were plenty of books inside the box. On a street that is populated with refugees and coffee hounds, this is the perfect way to get reading materials in the hands of those in need. This is simple grassroots activism at its best.