When The Scope folded, they kindly sold The Overcast their old newspaper racks, but they wanted to hang on to the sidewalk boxes, citing future plans to “do something” with them.

That “something” has officially been implemented. The Scope’s old sidewalk boxes are now home to the city’s new, innovative library system, and you don’t even need a membership. Late return fees won’t bankrupt you either, because you don’t technically even need to return what you borrowed: just pay it forward and replace the book you took with another.

Open Bookshelves St. John’s is officially launching this  weekend, Sunday September 7th, at 1 pm, for the box by the War Memorial and Fixed Coffee. People are encouraged to bring 1 book they loved to donate to the library. (Do not bring a pile of crappy old books you want to get rid of. Bring something you want — need  — others to read.)

Like the RPM Challenge – which was also brought to St. John’s in a big way by Elling Lien – Open Bookshelves was inspired by a small movement in The States (Wisconsin, actually) called “My Little Free Library.” Basically, the idea is “Take a book, leave a book.” Something Elling calls “an informal way of sharing a book with the people in your city.”

There are two operational boxes right now. One in front of Georgestown Bakery, and another by Fixed Coffee and the War Memorial on Duckworth. Open the box, take a peak, borrow a book. Bam. That simple. Unlike a standard library, there’s no requirement you actually return the book, should you fall in love with it. Ethically, though, you really ought to replace what you took with a new book.

As Elling says, “If you really love a book, you probably want to share it with other people. A good way to do that is to put it in this box.” With that sentiment, these boxes could be filled with the city’s favourite reads.

Visit www.openbookshelves.ca to register a book online, take a photo of it, throw it in a box, and people can write about that book on the website, to get some discussion going.

Once again, the launch is Sunday at 1pm, at the box beside Fixed Coffee and the War Memorial. Bring 1 beloved book to donate. Scrutinize your choice. Because this whole thing is only as good as your taste in donation.