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A Word On Independent Libraries & Reading Rooms


Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s happening.
Independently-run libraries are taking over cities, one reading room at a time.

Q: What has made this takeover possible?
A: a room, a box of nails, a hammer, an online presence, people.

With these tools anyone can nurture their community/culture.
If you build it, writers/publishers/readers will come.
It’s guaranteed to work because it’s already worked before.

First there was Mellow Pages Library operating out of Brooklyn.

According to their website,

Mellow Pages is an independently-run library & reading room located in Brooklyn, NY focusing on providing limited-print fiction and poetry to the neighborhoods of Bushwick, East Williamsburg and Bed-Stuy. With a collection of over 1,200 titles and zines, come check out the space and have a coffee, crack into a new one.

And now there is Paper Darts operating out of Minneapolis.

paper darts

According to their website,

Explore our independently-run mini library & reading room in the style of and in collaboration with Mellow Pages. The walls of the Paper Darts Pop-Up will house curated print fiction and poetry for our local Lyndale Minneapolis neighborhood. With a collection of over 100 titles and lit mags, come check out the space, bring a coffee, and crack into a new one.

Kudos to Paper Darts for making this happen outside of Brooklyn. From the looks of their walls, they know what they’re doing.

This is not a surprise. Since it started, the founders of Mellow Pages Library, Matt Nelson and Jacob Perkins, have persistently and openly encouraged people to follow their business model, going so far as to generously document their experiences on this public Google doc, in which they define their IMPETUS for starting an independently-run library & reading room, namely:

Because you can, no one else will, and you believe in supporting writers and small publishers.

Matt and Jacob talked about their adventures on this podcast with Brad Listi. Mike Young showed them some love over at the increasingly popular indie site HTMLGiant, where he calls Mellow Pages a “user-sourced library/reading room.”

User-sourced is definitely le mot juste, because this strain of library/reading room gets its books from donations. There is no budgeted acquisitions department. Mellow Pages supplies their address, and people/publishers supply their books. They do it because it is the right thing to do. That simple.

Who wants to start something like this in Austin, Texas? Email me herocious AT hotmail DOT com.

June 3, 2013 5:25 pm

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