on monday, sarah, shinjoung yeo, and james jacobs leave for a two week road-trip across northern california. their schedule includes visits with ten public libraries. their mode of transportation is a magical bookmobile - one that downloads books from the public domain, prints them, binds them, and then gives them away for free.
here, i think, is how it works. first, they roll up in the bookmobile, park in front of a library, and unpack their gear.
second, through various means, including the satellite dish on the top of the bus, books and other goodies are downloaded from the public domain to the bookmobile.
the books are stored digitally on the printer. a book is selected and the printer prints.
then you bind the book. this machine takes the printed pages, applies wax, and binds.
next, the sides are cropped and the book's cover is added. having kids help out makes this stage easier and more fun.
finally, you give the book away for free.
the arms giving the book above belong to brewster kahle - the wizard behind the internet archive and the owner of the bookmobile. today at the mission branch of the san francisco library, brewster joined sarah, shinjoung, and james to test the gear and give out free books.
it resembled a circus - a free and public circus taking place on the sidewalk of one the busier streets in san francisco. free books, free bookmaking workshops, and free lessons about the public domain.
after the free festivities, there was much celebration.
sarah works at techsoup on the maintainIT project, gathering stories from librarians about how they maintain their public computers, and then distributing the tips and techniques on their web site, on their blog, and in free print guides or cookbooks. there's amazing things going on in libraries everyday, so when they can help a library in geneva, alabama find a great solution from a library in hearne, texas, they're pretty happy.
and because the cookbook is in the public domain, they can download the cookbook, make a book out of it, and distribute it for free to the librarians they visit. brilliant.
most bookmobiles carry books. this one makes them. sounds like a magic bus to me.