Could an American city embrace and support a “community bookcase”?
Apparently there are cities across Europe where bookshelves sit on sidewalks, jam-packed with novels and non-fiction, just waiting to enlighten those passing by. Each one operates on an honor system. You’re welcome to pick up a book or two at your leisure, just as long as you’re willing to replace it with a book of your own in the coming days.
Here in Amurica (misspelling intentional), we’ve taken to a different type of book exchange. We’re all about the online book exchange variety, such as BookMooch.
Without the strong community oversight of many European cities – like this one in Germany – the idea of putting free books out on an American street seems absolutely ludicrous. Erect a bookcase, stuffed with books out on a sidewalk and it’s easy to imagine that within hours all the good books would be gone (and not replaced) and the not so great ones would be defiled and strewn across the ground. The bookcase itself would then be hauled off quicker than most residential curbside items.
Too bad. Because ultimately, it’s sort of a huge waste of energy to ship a book across the country for a trade you could have made with a neighbor down the street.
So, back to my original question. Could a city like Decatur, or any of it’s surrounding Georgia city brethren and sistren, EVER support something such as this? Maybe with a few tweaks? Or will we forever be regulated to online, long-distance sharing, supported by a heavily subsidized mail system?