The initiative for this program came from the Hatfield Library’s Reading Group, which has a goal to encourage life long reading habits. One idea the group had been considering was to create a book exchange area somewhere in the library for books (or dvds, magazines, etc.) that had been donated to the library, but we already owned or didn’t fit with our collection guidelines. One of the librarians noticed that an “ancient” wooden book cart was on its way to the campus surplus. The library staff really wanted to reuse the book cart in some fashion, so the thought of reusing it for a Book Swap bookcase occurred to a librarian who had seen a similar arrangement at another university.
The wooden cart most likely came from the original Willamette Library that was housed in Smullin Hall. Someone from Willamette’s facilities department back in the 1950s or 60s most likely built it.
Over the winter break the wheels were removed, a wood base added, and a fresh coat of paint and customized graphic were given to the former cart. And voilà! We now have a creative “new” way to share books. It is kind of neat to incorporate and reuse such an interesting bit of Willamette’s history.
The concept for “take a book, leave a book” is not new. Various renditions of this sharing system have existed for many years and occurs nationally. Salem, for example, has a few similar public “Little Free Library” stations scattered about the city. Willamette University had a similar system several years ago that essentially functioned out of a wicker basket in the Dean’s Office. The new bookcase in the Fish Bowl makes this much more accessible to students, faculty, staff, and others connected to Willamette.
We encourage our Willamette community to participate in our Take a Book, Leave a Book program. For comments and questions, please contact Joni Roberts, Associate University Librarian for Public Services and Collection Development, firstname.lastname@example.org.