Learning patterns/Book swapping table at your event
What problem does this solve?
Book swapping (AKA as book crossing) has been a practice for years now, and fits beautifully in our collaborative, knowledge-sharing movement; it's even more fun, useful and engaging if you manage to get books in multiple languages and scripts, multiple topics, with photographs, which cater to different audiences, etc. Those can even be used for impromptu activities, like adding referenced content to Wikimedia sites, and maybe even for a dedicated edit-a-thon.
What is the solution?
- First step: decide how you're going to track the books (table on a wiki page, bookcrossing site, etc.).
- Second step: create customized labels that people may print to label their books in advance. See here for examples. You can also ask talented people to come up with their own beautiful designs!
- Third step: campaign to promote the initiative. Use social media, mailing lists, etc. Create "template" announcements that other people can share, provide a quick link to your tweet/post that people can share, etc. Tell your book-loving friends. Ask The Wikipedia Library if they want to be involved as well somehow!
- Fourth step: get labels printed on sticky paper (people don't do their homework ;) )
- Fifth step: organize the space which will host the swapping event. Bring with you quality stationery: pens, markers, adhesive tape, glue, post-it notes, signs about how the table works, signs with directions to the table, leaflets, eye-catching stuff like candies/pins/stickers if you have any to share, but most importantly don't forget the book labels, and smile! Put "free books, help yourself" signs in as many languages as possible.
- Sixth step: staff the table when you can, or at least check in multiple times to tidy it up.
Things to consider
- If people don't feel like giving away a book of theirs, suggest they buy a new one to donate.
- Make it clear people can pick a book even if they haven't brought one;
- If you can, set up an alternative path: books which are not meant for traveling, but to be donated to a local community/chapter/library etc. Please study how feasible that is in advance, and make sure those books are labelled accordingly.
- Encourage people to help themselves at the table even when it's not attended.
- Use a short URL on signs and labels pointing to the initiative's page (that is, the page where you're also tracking the books). Tell people they're welcome to use their favorite book-swapping sites to track their books (example), but that's not mandatory.
- You may also consider providing a laptop so that people can download open e-books and papers (from Wikisource, Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive etc.). However, you probably want to prepare "batches" of such downloads, which may or may not be too time-consuming. This kind of exchange may also happen via preloaded USB keys, as small ones may be cheap enough these days.
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