Street Books is a bicycle-powered library, serving people who live outside. We strive to: Empower people on the streets through access to literature and create a community of support through a shared love of books.
Bottom Line for Portland
Since 2011, Street Books has provided books for patrons who live outside and who face systemic barriers (lack of ID, proof of address). Library patrons receive an official Street Books library card. There are no fees or fines and they can pass the book on to friends if they don’t cross paths with Street Books again. Library patrons know they can count on a friendly librarian who will suggest books, take a request, and just listen if they have a story to tell.
We partner with many community organizations to offer books and reading glasses. This enables us to reach more patrons and enhance these organizations’ services. We build curated boxes for organizations that distribute books with their mutual aid services around the city.
“I was living outdoors when I first found Street Books, and I checked out maybe three books a week. I probably got over 50 books that first season. I’d sit down at the waterfront on that bench and pass the time of day. It really, really beats sitting around doing nothing, and it most definitely beats sitting around feeling bad.” --Ben Hodgson, board member, librarian, patron, author.
“One of the single best ideas I’ve seen in this town.” --Author Omar El Akkad (What Strange Paradise and American War)
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Our patrons are some of the most diverse residents of Portland. Whether an individual is struggling with mental health, has a physical disability, is a new immigrant with limited English, or a person whose earthly possessions fit into a shopping cart, we ensure that all are welcome at the street library. We stock the library with a broad range of diverse authors so that every patron sees themselves reflected in the selection, including ensuring that there are books in Spanish as well as other languages by request. While most of our books are donated, librarians take requests from patrons and purchase specific books for them, primarily from BIPOC-owned bookstores.
The first $10,000 in donations to Street Books in November and December 2022 will be matched 1:1 by the Dos Corazones Family Fund. Help us to meet our match - Thank you!