PORTLAND, Ore. – During the summer and fall months in Portland Oregon, it’s not uncommon to find Laura Moulton on her bike delivering books to homeless PDX locals.
Her Street Books project started in 2011 as a three-month social practice “art project” and since then it’s become a regular program with volunteer and paid employees who take the time to hand out books to many of the areas homeless.
About Street Books
Although she may seem like a librarian, Laura Moulton isn’t an “official” librarian, she’s a teacher and writer who saw a need that had to be filled in Portland Oregon and stepped up to fill that need with Street Books.
What’s great about Street Books is that in an age where most books have gone digital and can be read on tablets or smartphones, Moulton has a wide selection of books to choose from thanks to donations, she’s also open to taking requests from readers and will take the time to search local second-hand bookstores to find those books.
Her library system is basically reliant on a card and a handshake but that doesn’t stop the city’s homeless population from looking forward to Street Books every year (from June to October) because those books break seemingly endless hours of nothing to do and give them something to look forward to.
Another reason why Street Books has been so successful over the last 6 years in Portland is because Laura Moulton believes that her mobile library offers the home homeless “crossover interactions”, or opportunities for people who are not homeless to interact with Portland’s homeless population, instead of ignoring them, or seeing an individual carrying a cardboard sign but never taking the time to get to know them.
Over the years, Street Books has been a bright spot in the days of many people including Ben Hogdson, one of many PDX people who live on the streets.
Besides being a regular patron of Street Books, Ben eventually went to work for the organization and shortly after was able to turn his life around, get off the street, and move into Section 8 housing in Portland.
Although the weather in Portland is cold and snowing now, we can expect to see Laura Moulton and Street Books delivering books to the homeless this year as well.