Three years ago, I started Bookleggers Library, inspired by books and the people of Miami. We have given away free books to whoever wants them for two and a half years at parks, museums, bars and cafes on a monthly basis.
Everyone who arrives gets to choose one book for free. More are available for trade or a small donation. We do not curate, so there is something for both casual readers and the most fastidious nerds.
We do not want the books back, and there are no strings attached. The books were donated to us, and we want to donate them to good homes.
The model is sort of a hybridized library/bookstore, so people can get both free and cheap used books. It is a new model.
Recently, the Knight Foundation endorsed Bookleggers with a Knight Arts Challenge grant, with hopes that we can extend our reach. It recognized the newfangledness of Bookleggers and the innovation behind what boils down to a book party. It is not afraid to take a risk on a scrappy indie library whose main goal is to save and deliver books while having a laugh in between. Trust me when I say it is fun.
Bookleggers will continue to exist, and even grow, because of the Knight Foundation’s generosity. Knight keeps talented and engaged Miamians here because it funds beneficial ideas. Our arts infrastructure owes a huge debt to Knight’s engagement.
I encourage everyone to apply. Build an idea based around what you love. Don’t be afraid if you think it’s crazy. Just believe in it and this city. The deadline to submit your best ideas of bringing community together is Feb. 23. Submit them by visiting KnightArts.org.
Nathaniel Sandler, Miami