About four and a half years ago, I had an idea.
The idea was basically to integrate a library model into a bookstore setting, where you would have the option to either borrow or buy everything in the “store”. Over time, and thanks largely to Houston’s vast food truck collective, I began to imagine such a library/bookstore inside of a bookmobile, free to roam about the city (nay, country), to collaborate with various community leaders, and, obviously, to work alongside Houston’s vast food truck collective.
At an interview for a position as a Young Adult Librarian, well after the part where I realized that “Young Adult” apparently means “middle schooler” in a public library setting, I was asked what type of outreach services I would undertake if hired for the position. After spouting something about reaching out to local schools blah blah blah, I told my interviewers that what I’d really like to do is drive a bookmobile around and get “Young Adults” interested in library services by bringing the library to “Young Adults”. One of the interviewers actually laughed at me. The general response from the room, though I’m not certain it was put in so many words, was a dismissive “Keep dreaming.”
Kelly and I have done a lot of amazing things and connected with a lot of amazing people over the past two years. Our bookmobile has provided us a creative outlet that our regular jobs have sorely lacked, a means for making meaningful and unique contributions to our community, and a conversation piece (and a space to have those conversations) with every person (and dog) that we have had the privilege of welcoming on board. It has been an unregrettable and unforgettable chapter in our lives.
But it’s time for us to move on.
A couple of months ago, I put out a feeler on one of our graduate school’s listservs to see if anyone might be interested in taking over the BPTL. I imagine it would find a great home in Austin among its farmers markets and food parks, I wrote. Several recipients wrote back in agreement, and one decided she wanted to personally see it come to fruition.
So The Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library has made its last stop in Houston – it’s only fitting to have gone out at an event with ice cream and pizza (from a food truck) and free beer – and, probably, its last stop as “The Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library”. So it goes.
We’re excited to see what’s in store for the bookmobile in its next iteration, and we hope you will support its new owners with the same gusto that kept us going these past two years. Their project is currently in its planning stages, but we will keep this post updated as we obtain more information.
If you’re ever (starting, say, in April ’15) in Austin, stop by! Show them your BPTL library card. If nothing else, it’ll at least get you a conversation.
–CA Grawl, Traveling Librarian & Young Adult