The Sketchbook Project II

Summer in San Francisco is freezing, and Sunday was no exception. That didn’t stop a hardcore group of book-lovers, artists, imagination-lovers, readers, and what have you (including myself) from gathering in the SFCB parking lot to get a look at the Sketchbook Project’s mobile library. Well,

San Francisco Center for the Book

Library patrons waiting for their “orders.”

more specifically, at the 1,000 or so books that it carried into San Francisco!

True to form, the “taco truck full of books” worked a bit like a food cart at Off the Grid:

Step 1) Pick a library card (any library card) from a bowl, scan it, and enter your name. Voilà! You’re a member of the Sketchbook Project.

Step 2) Place an order. You can search the library by location, color, theme, materials, mood – say you picked the “comics & animation” subheading from “theme” (which I did. I have a huge soft spot for comics.) Your finished order would contain one book that has to do with comics, and another random book. Or heck, just click “RANDOM!” and receive two books of the librarian’s choosing.

Step 3) Here’s where the Off the Grid metaphor really kicks in. You stand in the parking lot, shivering, watching the librarians move back and forth inside the cart. Whose order are they filling? When will I get mine? And then, magic moment: they call your name. Order up! You’re handed two sketchbooks, and you make a beeline for the tables set up only a few steps away.

Step 4) Delicious, delicious delicious – you get to read your sketchbooks.

San Francisco Center for the Book

“Let’s get hats!” – This sketchbook was filled in during Hurricane Sandy

Step 4.5) You’re sharing your table with three, maybe four other people (all as freezing cold as you are) and while you were reading the sketchbook that came in your order, you’ve been peeping the ones they’re reading as well. That guy next to you has one that looks pretty cool… does it fold out? It does! Man, I want to see that one. So you offer to switch sketchbooks with him. After all, you only get two books in an order. Why not save the time that you would be spending in the line to order, and share and share alike? Instead of two sketchbooks, you have eight.

And while you’re talking to the people at your table, perhaps you overhear that the book in front of that guy is the one he made – “can I see it?” Yes, of course, but first: an explanation. Have you ever heard of geocacheing? Well, this book isn’t just a sketchbook: it’s the key to a series of linked geocaches all around San Jose. Yeah, it would be too easy if the sketchbook told you where to look; that’s why it’s a series of complex puzzles – everything from anagrams to crossword puzzles to long division. And also: the whole thing is Legend of Zelda themed.

You just don’t find out about things like this if you spend your Sunday at home.

San Francisco Center for the Book

Intrigued by the idea of the Zelda geocache? Here’s the cache’s registration number

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Zoe
Zoe
Zoe is a student at Reed College, and an amateur playwright. During the summer of 2013 she is a volunteer at SFCB contributing her time and wit to the library and her sorting talents to the California job cases in the print studio.

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