(Photo of friends Cindi and Christina)
Two years ago I (Scott) was driving down Cherry around 7th Street, and I noticed a cart full books out of the corner of my eye. My initial question was who was doing this, and why? This was the sort of thing that made me happy.
This is the story of Cindi Young, and her journey to create & expand the AMAZING Long Beach Neighborhood Book Swap.
In July of 2012 Cindi decided to downsize her enormous and ever-growing personal book collection. Her books were starting to take over her house, so she needed to thin things out a bit. After much contemplation as to where Cindi wanted her beloved books to go, she decided to do the unthinkable and to SHARE them with her neighbors.
She got the idea of swapping within a neighborhood from The Free Box on 4th Street and Cherry along Retro Row. She started swapping books by putting them out on a small table in front of her house. She also attached a sign that asked people to take a book, read it, bring the book or another book back for others to read and then swap for another. It’s that simple.
On August 1, 2012 the book swap was born. Originally, it was called the Cherry Avenue Book Swap. There were no expectations from the outset, Cindi just loved watching people stop by to look at the books.
Soon passersby began to take notice of the swap and book donations started to pour in. The small table had to quickly be exchanged for a three-tiered rolling baker’s rack just to accommodate the growing inventory. It was around that time Cindi renamed the massive bookapalooza
“The Long Beach Neighborhood Book Swap.”
This book bonanza became an organic community effort. Cindi had no idea what an impact the book swap would have on her neighborhood. Neighbors naturally began to congregate in front of the book swap as if it was the new neighboring watering hole. Cindi got to know many neighbors by name. They began sharing their life stories with one another, it was beautiful for her to just be a part of it.
Cindi over time started meeting people that shared with her the value the book swap had on their lives. One man explained how he was learning how to read because of the book swap. A woman shared that she found a book about health at the swap that changed her life. And a college student said she found one of her required books on the swap, which saved her a lot of money that semester. Stopping by the swap became a part of peoples’ routine. The swap began to take on a life of its own. It was so much bigger than a rack of books. It represented a coming together of neighbors in the name of community spirit, education, and giving back.
Cindi’s vision now is to see book swaps in every neighborhood in Long Beach.
Can you imagine neighbor’s using something as common as used books to create meaningful, even transformative relationships around the entire city?
Cindi added that she would also love to go mobile with the swap. “I want to go into other neighborhoods with a van full of books and share. I would love to start block reading clubs throughout the city. I also want to help others start swaps in their own neighborhoods and blocks.”
The LB Neighborhood Book Swap will supply books to those who are interested in starting a swap in their own neighborhood. They can email Cindi Young here: firstname.lastname@example.org
The book swap has a new home at 617 Stanley Avenue near 6th and Junipero. Please stop by and take a book.
***Cindi’s friend Christina is the one that is leading the way on Stanley Ave. Christina and Cindi want to thank you for your continued support and love.
Long Beach Neighborhood Book Swap on Facebook:
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