The Story Sailboat and Library Advocacy Project

I’m super excited to announce my Literacy and Library Advocacy Campaign on indiegogo.com! I was originally planning on releasing this project on Kickstarter but they don’t allow advocacy or awareness campaigns. Check out the description of the project below and help us advocate for literacy by giving money on the project home page.

Who Are We?

The Story Sailboat is a independent bookmobile on the water that will set sail around the San Francisco Bay area and Sacramento Delta in the summer of 2012 setting a course that promotes literacy and libraries. Our goal is to give out 1,000 books and install 100 small, easily accessible libraries through our Guerrilla Library and Book Seeding Campaigns. We want to remind people that reading is one of the most fundamental influences on in a person’s life and we will do this through promoting reading and libraries.

Why Literacy?

Did you know that it’s estimated that 30 million people who are over 16 in the United States can’t read past an elementary school level? Literacy is absolutely essential for an individual to understand information in the information age. Without basic literacy skills a person will have trouble with fully comprehending math, technology, science, and other basic subjects. A person can’t apply for a job, full out an application, or use computers to further their careers. If we are to eradicate poverty at home, it begins with our workforce having a grasp on literacy skills. We want to remind people that Literacy and our library system that supports adult and child literacy is intensely important to the success of our country and improvement of ourselves.

What Is a Guerrilla Library?

A Guerrilla library is part social service and part street art installation. It can be any repurposed box, shelf space, nook, or cranny that holds books for the public to take and enjoy – for free. Discovering a library in an unexpected or repurposed space adds to excitement. There have been many versions of this in quite a few cities across the country and the world. We want to bring as many of these installations to the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento Delta as we can.

What is Book Seeding?

Bookseeding involves placing books in widely populated or highly trafficked areas – like subways, bus stops, coffee shops and parks. Within these books we’ve placed information about the importance of literacy and libraries. Not only will people find something to read and inspire them, but they will also learn about why reading is important. Book Seeding and Guerrilla Libraries let people serendipitously find something that inspires them, encouraging them to re-engage with their love of reading and libraries.

Why do it by Sailboat?

Sailing is the world’s oldest green energy powered transportation. The entire Bay Area and Sacramento Delta are accessible by our little 22 foot Sailboat and the majority of the population in this area lives within a few miles of the coastline.Our boat has taken us all over the bay and has allowed us to access some otherwise hard to reach coastal communities. Our boat has taken us all over the bay and through some fairly heavy wind and weather without any trouble. In the same way, we believe that reading and literacy can help everyone weather life’s tempests and come out on top.

You Can Follow Us Along the Journey

We invite you to follow along and see where we drop the books and install the Guerrilla libraries. We have a website that describes everything that we are doing on our journey. Follow us on this journey as we rebuild our larger ocean going boat called Surprise Me II, or follow our long-term goal of journeys across the ocean to spread literacy to coastal communities around the world.

We Need New Sails!

This is the reason we’re here. While we already have more books than we can handle and all the supplies we need to get the book seeding and libraries up and running, we’re still just a couple of folks who are paying for all of this out of our own pocket. We desperately need new sails to reach out to communities who are further away and to more safely navigate the Bay.

We spent the winter shaking down our boat and sailing it all over the bay and now our over 20 year old mainsail (the triangle sail on the mast) is too blown out of shape for us to safely use anymore. It’s also summer sailing on the bay which means that there’s no wind in the morning and in the afternoon there can regularly be wind well over 25 knots! The problem is that right now we have three Jib Sails (the big sails on the front of the boat) of different sizes instead of rolling furling. So, when the wind starts to blow, we have to send someone to the front of the boat to take a large sail down and put up a small one. This can be pretty dangerous! With a Roller Furling system and sail we can change the size of the sail with a pull of a line from the relative safety of the cockpit.

What Your Money Goes to

1 Main Sail ~$500

1 Roller Furling Jib ~$500

1 Roller Furling System ~$500

Other Miscellaneous bits, pieces, shackles, lines and of course… IndieGoGo’s cut – $500

If We Go Over Our Goal

The worst and best thing about owning a boat is that there’s always something to fix or improve and a day spent messing around on boats is a day well spent. So, what we can do depends on how much money we get. Some of our outstanding projects on the Story Sailboat are:

New Lines

New Anchor Chain

New Outboard

New Standing Rigging

New Paint

New Self Steering

New Solar Panels

New Navigation and GPS Devices

New Electrical Systems

How about a new boat altogether?!

But really, all we’re really looking to do is get some new sails to extend our reach and make it safer for us to sail our little boat to all of those hard to reach communities.

If We Don’t Meet Our Goal

Well, lets be honest… We can still sail! But only on days when we’re sure that the wind will be good for the whole time we’re out. This rarely happens on the Bay, especially in the summer, so we’d be hugely limited to where and when we can sail and how far we can reach with our advocacy for literacy and libraries. Basically, we won’t be able to take trips that span multiple days or go long distances from our home port in Redwood City. You can help us reach more people and make a bigger impact all over the bay. Of course, if we don’t make our goal, some kids may never learn to read and they will most surely be led astray into a life of crime and drugs.

Are Guerrilla Libraries Saving the Soul of Librarianship? Redefining Libraries (Part 3)

For this third edition of the redefinition of librarians I would like to point out that there are quite a few librarians (and non-librarians) creating libraries in areas where other libraries can’t (or refuse) to reach. These are normal people who believe so wholeheartedly in the benefits of libraries that they are going out into the world and creating libraries. These people are the Johnny Appleseed of librarianship and without their work many people wouldn’t have the opportunity to have access to a collection of information or literature. These are also not collections that are maintained or controlled by an entity or a formalized organization. They are more like an anarchist’s library as many don’t have any rules, regulations, or memberships. What is great about this is that I have noticed more and more people taking up the cause as libraries around the country falter and I’d like to point out a few guerilla libraries that have been put together around the world.

Mick Jones Library
Mick Jones of The Clash and various other bands has created a Rock and Roll Library. This library features rock memorabilia from his own personal collection and contains nearly 10,000 items. From what I gather this is not a quiet library (it is rock and roll after all) and since its punk, you know it will tear down the walls of the library and scream with a rebel yell at the establishment.

Telephone Booth Library
Here’s another one from the UK. This is one of Britain’s old red phone booths like you see on Harry Potter. It has been recycled into one of the country’s smallest lending libraries and only stock around 100 books. Since this library employs zero librarians, the Villagers from Westbury-sub-Mendip in Somerset can use the library 24 hours a day. The library’s “Patrons” simply replace the books they take, with books they have read thus keeping the library’s collection well stocked.


Payphone Library

Of course, America has its own version of this but maybe it’s not quite as elegant. It does work however. The concept is basically the same in that it’s an old public phone that has been re-commissioned into a self-service library that is available to the local community 24 hours a day.


Ikea Beach Library

Alright, this one really gets me mad. It was set up by Ikea to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the Billy Bookcase. I’m mad because absolutely love it and it should have been done by someone other than Ikea. I would however, like to point out that I LOVE Ikea so don’t think I have anything against them. It’s just that I really feel like a guerilla librarian or even a regular library really dropped the ball on this one. But maybe we can get some folks to replicate it somewhere else in the world. Or… There’s an Ikea right down the street from my library actually. Hmmm…


Library In a Locker
Here is a kid that is full of awesome! Apparently when he found that his school library had a bunch books that had been banned, he decided that he would offer these books from his school locker library. Here is his quote “…I now operate a little mini-library that no one has access to but myself. Practically a real library, because I keep an inventory log and give people due dates and everything. I would be in so much trouble if I got caught, but I think it’s the right thing to do because before I started, almost no kid at school but myself took an active interest in reading! Now not only are all the kids reading the banned books, but go out of their way to read anything they can get their hands on…”


CSULA Guerrilla Library
For my last entry, here is another set of kids with their own Guerrilla Library. The California State University in Los Angeles, due to budget cuts, closed its library during FINALS!! Does anything sound more asinine that that? I don’t think so, and neither do the students at CSULA. So they built their own library to study for finals and they did it Guerrilla style!


Books and Beer
My Last one is my favorite but it isn’t really a Guerrilla library as I have defined it here because its done in cooperation with a city and a library system. This library is a pub in the Yorkshire Dales may be a vision of the future for many communities. The awesome villagers of Hudswell have bought their local pub to save it from closure and have now set up a small library in part of the bar! There is nothing I love more than reading a good book with a beer in a good bar! I mean that seriously! Here is the video

Now I ask you… If libraries are going away, or aren’t necessary, why is it that so many people take the time to create their own personal libraries at home OR take the time and effort to create guerrilla libraries in their communities? I’ll tell you why! It’s because people still love libraries in all of their forms and won’t let the man hold the library back!