The Books-to-People Project of Indianapolis


The Indianapolis’ Books-to-People project of the 1970s reflected that decade’s trend of using mobile libraries to help offset social inequality. The federally-funded project began in the summer of 1971 as means to bring paperbacks to the disadvantaged. Using a vehicle known as the Go-Go-Van, the colorful car’s rounds included Goodwill Centers, doctor’s offices, bars, beauty and barber shops, daycare centers, and just about any other place people might gather. The Marion County Jail was also served. The van gave out the books for free and encouraged people to return them to one of the library’s local branches. The staff also had plenty of helpful pamphlets on hand. On top of this, the Books-to-People left deposit collections whose contents were not meant to be removed. These boxes included titles such as Name Your Baby and the Home Medical Encyclopedia. Each collection included a sign that said: “Books-to-People/Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library/ Mini Reading for You/ Please Leave it Here for the next Person to enjoy.”

The project was discontinued in 1980, some say as another casualty of the energy crisis.

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