The Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library (BPTL) is a Houston-based non-profit traveling library and incubator space.  In short, we are your bookmobile.

Houston’s Voice “The Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library” from Human Films on Vimeo.

The mission of the BPTL is to foster multifaceted learning and cultural literacy in the form of access to books, music, videos, technologies, electronic resources, and other information services as needed in a flexible, mobile setting creatively and passionately managed by information professionals.

This mission is supported in a twofold approach: (1) as a traveling library – a standalone organization providing traditional and emerging library services at a variety of locations to a range of individuals; and (2) as an incubator space – a physical and information resource that can be utilized by organizations without adequate outreach and marketing services, including but not limited to public libraries, museums, schools, and local businesses.

As an incubator space, we offer our space, our time, and our professionalism (as “we” comprise of two librarians with MSIS degrees from the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Information) at a reasonable and negotiable rate to all mutually interested parties.

The traveling library functions as a hybrid library/bookstore and operates on a RENT-BARTER-DONATE system.

Rental is based on an annual membership plan, and the price of the plan depends on the number of items you choose to rent at a time.  The basic plan is a $5 annual membership to borrow one item at a time.  The $20 annual membership plan will allow you to have five items out at a time.  Become a member on your first visit, check out the number of items in accordance with your plan, bring them back when you feel like it, take some new stuff home.

We encourage our collection to be used as a library – to be thought of as belonging to everyone – but we’re happy to barter with you if you find something on our shelves that you feel you must take home to own. Throw something our way – cash, books, a sandwich – and we’ll see if we can make a deal.  As a bonus, any item bought or bartered from the BPTL may be traded one-for-one for any other item in our collection.

The foundation of our traveling collection came from our personal shelves and from our friends and families, but it continues to build from donations from our members and other members of the community. All donations deemed worthy of inclusion will be added to our traveling library collection, while those which are not will be repurposed, re-donated, or otherwise given away for free.  We also offer a $5 discount on membership if you donate five or more items, and welcome trades for in-kind donations.

In addition to our traveling collection of literature, music, and film, we offer electronic resources, zines, a free bin, book clubs, a mixtape trade, Reader’s Advisory, a blog, and a reservation system.

If you’re interested in becoming a member of the BPTL, find out where we are through Twitter, Facebook, and/or our Upcoming Events page, and bring in a membership application.  We’ll also have applications on hand on the truck.

The BPTL is unaffiliated and entirely grass roots, meaning that we are doing all of this out of our own pockets and through the kindness of others.  If you would, please consider donating to the BPTL by clicking the Donate button at the bottom of the page.

Thank you for your time.  We hope to see you around!


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