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Hidden Houston
A Bookmobile for 2013

Like a food truck for books: Library on wheels brings a good read to you on demand

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Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library
Courtesy of Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library

Houston had all the necessary ingredients — highways, a commuter spirit and sprawling growth — for two dedicated local bookworms to marry two of their passions: Food trucks and literary arts.

Kelly Allen and Chris Grawl founded the Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library, a bookmobile whose namesake channels the adventures of Kurt Vonnegut's protagonist of his 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five. Similar to Billy Pilgrim's freedom that slings him away from the confines of the space-time continuum, this books-on-wheels duo leisurely gallivant out and about the city lending tomes, CDs and DVDs.

 The library's whereabouts are posted online and updates are posted on Twitter and Facebook.

Allen explains that traveling libraries aren't a new chapter in the Bayou City's legacy. The Houston Public Library shipped boxes of books from location to location back in the 1890s, a concept that developed into bookmobiles 60 years later.

"We are bringing books to the community rather than bringing the community to books," Allen says.

The collaborative model requires an annual membership of $5 to $20 for which subscribers receive access to the whole collection. There are no due dates, no fines, no late fees assessed for those who want hold on to loaned materials for longer periods of time. The library's whereabouts are posted online and updates are posted on Twitter and Facebook.

Learn more about the Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library from the above video, produced by Human Films, and hear directly from Allen and Grawl about their fervor to enrich the life of Houston readers.

Editor's note: Hidden Houston, an interactive multimedia series, aims to reveal the many things that are unique about the Bayou City and its surrounding areas.

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