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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Free, Open Libaries
Old 09-22-2018   #1
Roger Hicks
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Free, Open Libaries

In the last two or three years, a wonderful institution has appeared where I live: telephone kiosks converted to libraries. They take out the 'phone and stick in a few shelves, and anyone is free to take or bring books. There are two in Loudun and one in St. Jean de Sauves, and the mayor of our village has already reserved the old telephone kiosk in the Place Coligny and says it will be converted "soon".

Do these things exist in the US too?

I should perhaps add that both of the ones in Loudun are within 1-2 minutes' walk of a public toilet, and that the one in our village will be too: another example of something that appears to be disappearing from the UK, but also saving the mini-libraries from the traditional subsidiary use of UK 'phone boxes.

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R.
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Old 09-22-2018   #2
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In the last two or three years, a wonderful institution has appeared where I live: telephone kiosks converted to libraries. They take out the 'phone and stick in a few shelves, and anyone is free to take or bring books. There are two in Loudun and one in St. Jean de Sauves, and the mayor of our village has already reserved the old telephone kiosk in the Place Coligny and says it will be converted "soon".

Do these things exist in the US too?
Yes, there is a popular movement in the US to put a decorative library box in your residential front yard with books. Walk or drive by and help yourself. No government involved.
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Old 09-22-2018   #3
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Yes, there is a popular movement in the US to put a decorative library box in your residential front yard with books. Walk or drive by and help yourself. No government involved.
Interesting. Thanks. Do they exist in public spaces too? (I.e, not private front yards?)

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-22-2018   #4
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https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/
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Old 09-22-2018   #5
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Fascinating, thanks: a site dedicated to making money out of people giving things away! Does anyone know of any other approaches in the USA?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-22-2018   #6
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We have several in store lobbies in rural southern Lancaster County, Pa. Here the program is being run by the public library and the school district. Anyone can borrow, or take, a book and either bring it back or not. The program also accepts donations from anyone. It's been going for a couple of years and is quite popular.
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Old 09-22-2018   #7
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We have several in store lobbies in rural southern Lancaster County, Pa. Here the program is being run by the public library and the school district. Anyone can borrow, or take, a book and either bring it back or not. The program also accepts donations from anyone. It's been going for a couple of years and is quite popular.
Thanks. I don't know who runs the ones round here.

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R.
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Old 09-22-2018   #8
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They are in Ontario. At least one in Milton. And two public libraries, with third one coming.
And then, here is Torono. https://www.blogto.com/arts/2017/09/...tle-libraries/
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Old 09-22-2018   #9
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Fascinating, thanks: a site dedicated to making money out of people giving things away! Does anyone know of any other approaches in the USA?
Most of the little libraries I have seen have been put together by the property owners. I don't see why you have to be negative about people providing alternatives for the handyman challenged. At least tax dollars are not involved. As usual, none of this discussion has anything to do with photography.
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Old 09-22-2018   #10
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^I don't believe I saw anything about photography in the title of this thread .
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Old 09-22-2018   #11
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At least tax dollars are not involved. As usual, none of this discussion has anything to do with photography.
And considering that you have continued this trend so admirably, tax dollars per se are not a bad thing-

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2018/...es-are-amazing

Roger, another common thing in areas that have a density of people living and walking is the sidewalk giveaway (and yes, this also happens in suburbs and rural areas). You take one or more objects that you are finished with and simply place it on the sidewalk. It will usually disappear within a day; if not the polite thing to do is bring the object inside and dispose of another way. Shoes, books, furniture, kitchen items, framed images and paintings, etc.

You need a certain density of foot traffic for this to work smoothly- cities and the 'downtown' areas of smaller towns. Most Americans live in areas where walking the local streets is not typical. And oh yeah, you need actual sidewalks to put items on, and that is not standard in large chunks of American suburbs.
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Old 09-22-2018   #12
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It's not the USA but...

our local train station has a community library... all free of course including internet access. The trend is to use small community centers rather than huge (and costly) libraries... the book-mobile can be found at smaller train stations on a regular schedule. And not to forget free online e-books, reading has never been easier... read a book today.
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Old 09-22-2018   #13
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librarians generally roll their eyes at Little Free Libraries because they're corporatized, bougie versions of what public libraries already do.

https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/05...raries/523533/

Jane Schmidt and Jordan Hale, "Little Free Libraries®: Interrogating the impact of the branded book exchange"

for a loooong time, libraries have been setting up public kiosks and book mobiles to make books available in places that are more convenient, especially for underserved communities.


LAPL in Pershing Square, ca. 1937


LAPL Traveling Branch in Chatsworth, 1949

nowadays, public libraries are making unstaffed book exchanges and kiosks.


Milwaukee Public Library vending machine


public book exchange in frankfurt, germany
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Old 09-22-2018   #14
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And just to confirm that no good deed goes unpunished, consider how various local governments here in the USA want to either shut down or regulate even these benign little libraries:
https://www.theatlantic.com/national...ckdown/385531/
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Old 09-22-2018   #15
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There is one out on the sidewalk in Hanover NH that I know of. I often visit one a few blocks away from my house. Here in VT they are often made to look like the house they are in front of. My nearby one is a teeny Victorian, painted to match, with the gingerbread and fish scale shingles too.
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Old 09-22-2018   #16
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Spotted in Brunswick, Maine last month.

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Old 09-22-2018   #17
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There is one on the town green in Lyme NH. It's been there for as long as I can remember. We also have a small library at work where folks donate books and one may borrow or keep the books. Kind of a recycle thing. To stay on topic with the forum, I donated some photography books to the work library.

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Old 09-22-2018   #18
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Seems a common feature in the reception area of vacation resorts. Books, videos...

The Little Free Library and similar are growing in popularity in my rural town. There are half a dozen or so within walking distance.

As to setting things out on the curb to be taken... well, we don't have a curb or even a sidewalk at our house. But we put a well-used office chair out on the edge of the lawn with a sign saying 'take me' and it was gone the next day!
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Old 09-22-2018   #19
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If it replaces a phone in hand with a book in hand, even just one, I'm all for it
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Old 09-22-2018   #20
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Originally Posted by skopar steve View Post
There is one on the town green in Lyme NH. It's been there for as long as I can remember. We also have a small library at work where folks donate books and one may borrow or keep the books. Kind of a recycle thing. To stay on topic with the forum, I donated some photography books to the work library.

Steve
I've been there, and donated a few items many years ago. My ex's mother was a librarian in Fairlee and I was lucky to get first pick on a few books taken out of circulation, including a few very dated "creative" photography manuals.


Here in Seattle, my street has no fewer than three Little Free Libraries, and we're two blocks from a SPL branch. I can't imagine professional librarians being particularly opposed to them—among numerous paperback novels, I find a lot of interesting nonfiction long since out of circulation in the municipal libraries. Owing to the nature of how theyre maintained, these little booths are usually on a post in the parking strip (there's a lot of terms for this nationally and internationally: the bit of grass between the sidewalk and curb). Nominally, the space is SDOT property but maintained by homeowners. I haven't seen one in a totally public space such as a park yet.

SPL does have a Bookmobile, but it serves primarily elder care facilities and preschools rather than the general public.
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Old 09-22-2018   #21
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I first saw these in the US over 10 years ago. They generally consists of a small box with a glassed front door on a hinge, filled with books and magazines (some good, many not) that people put in their front yards. The books are free to take and use as you so wish, with the hope that at some point you will fetch replacements and put them back in the little library yourself. Or perhaps read the books and bring them back, burn them on a cold night, whatever. What happens is totally out of anyone's control. Take one, or take them all. While the caretakers of the little libraries may have to occasionally restock them, they appear to be self regulating, in that people just do it themselves.

People show all manner of ingenuity and creativity in making their little libraries unique and attractive. They are often painted up very artistically, their shapes and sizes vary greatly (as does the selection of books proffered), and some even have a small solar panel on their roof, with a switch in the door. At night, if you open the door, a little light comes on like your fridge and shuts off when you close the door. Neat!

I love these. They're a healthy form of underground non commerce. Anything that takes the power out of the government's hands, as well as for-profit corporations, and gives it back to the people in a non commercial form I am all for. If you take money out of the barter equation, it can neither be taxed, policed, nor regulated.

By the way, this subject would make a killer photo book. If it's done properly, and had good photos and amusing stories to go with them, it could sell nicely. I'm just the idea man, someone else will have to do it, and I suspect that it is happening right now, although come to think of it, making a buck off what is a means of free exchange seems unethical in a sense. Aw, just do it, and donate the profits to an animal rescue place.
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Old 09-22-2018   #22
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There`s one in my nearest village of Poulton -le -Fylde .
I`m going to have to investigate .
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Old 09-22-2018   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
"telephone kiosks converted to libraries."

"both of the ones in Loudun are within 1-2 minutes' walk of a public toilet,"
I can't comment on France or the U.S., but in Australia I think the legal fraternity would be very interested in handling potential law suits from diseases/infections gained from handling these books.
Of course, Insurance companies would be less interested.

Sorry about the dampener.

David
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Old 09-23-2018   #24
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So public libraries don't have toilets, within 1 - 2 minutes walk of their books?
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Old 09-23-2018   #25
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Old 09-23-2018   #26
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So public libraries don't have toilets, within 1 - 2 minutes walk of their books?
Oh Gawd, I'm going to N.Z. in a couple of months.

None that I'm aware of, however any public libraries that I'm aware of are of a decent size, with many thousands of books, with control over the quality of the books handled (most bought new), and with toilets more than 1-2 minutes away, plus having hand washing facilities.

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Old 09-23-2018   #27
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The reference to public toilets was perhaps too culturally specific: England's "iconic" red telephone kiosks, especially in London, are notorious for often stinking of urine. In my defence, I did refer specifically to the UK.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-23-2018   #28
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I've seen quite a few old 'phone boxes turned into free libraries where I live in the UK.

Some are also being turned into emergency medical centres too:

https://www.communityheartbeat.org.u...medical-centre

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Old 09-23-2018   #29
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Roger, as I'm sure you've already know, pretty much every red phone box still standing in the UK (mostly in villages and small towns) is now a library or full of free fruit and veg and the like, looked after by the local community. Started happening in the early 90s as I recall, when they started to be phased out (many thousands are still standing, some with preservation orders since they are so iconic and part of our landscape).

Sadly, public loos are still fast disappearing here... (my favourite - the Victorian one at the bottom of Hampstead Heath - is still there, though, complete with original features!)
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Old 09-23-2018   #30
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We have very few boxes in Italy for free books exchanges (books crossing), the last I found was in Bormio (Alps) but I didn't manage to take a good photo of it !
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Old 09-23-2018   #31
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I can't comment on France or the U.S., but in Australia I think the legal fraternity would be very interested in handling potential law suits from diseases/infections gained from handling these books.
Of course, Insurance companies would be less interested.

Sorry about the dampener.

David
Dear David,

No, it's not "the lawyers".

Lawyers need clients. Often arrogant, stupid, greedy clients, it's true. But don't blame the lawyers for the existence of people like that.

With my LL.B. hat on, I also wonder who would sue whom, for what, on what evidence and under what statute or branch of common law.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-23-2018   #32
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We have only one in my town that I know of. And it is in the public library, it also has a public toilet. Some restaurants (coffee shops) have them but they are not well stocked. When I've been to Spain, France and Italy, I have to say the French truly have the best public toilets (by far).
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Old 09-23-2018   #33
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Thanks, everyone. Fascinating to learn of the different models. It may be just that the model here in France is the first I saw, but it seems to me that a communal/ community model, using old 'phone kiosks is better. Especial thanks thanks to UK readers, where I might reasonably be expected to know more, bit didn't.

Several shelves of books in an old 'phone kiosk or something similar sounds better to me than several small (and expensive) hutches on private lawns: more variety, a smaller percentage turnover. In other words, if I take 5 books from an old 'phone kiosk, there are still plenty of books left; and the 7 that I leave will not overwhelm the remainder that I do not take.

As for the pitiful claims about "tax dollars", a very great American, Oliver Wendell Holmes, wrote "Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society". I realize that a minority of Americans do not want to live in a civilized society, and therefore resent all taxes, but fortunately most civilized people (Americans cheerfully included) prefer civilization to barbarism.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-23-2018   #34
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We have only one in my town that I know of. And it is in the public library, it also has a public toilet. Some restaurants (coffee shops) have them but they are not well stocked. When I've been to Spain, France and Italy, I have to say the French truly have the best public toilets (by far).
That's just taking the p*ss, but it is is true. One of the two in Loudun (population maybe 5500) is in the basement of the magnificent City Hall -- Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité -- under the sweeping steps up to the offices. The other is in the market square. No elitism here!

In the village where I live, there's one public toilet in the corner of the main car park opposite the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) and the other is in the other principal parking place, near the pharmacy, the library, the tourist office and the primary school. The 'phone kiosk in this square is earmarked for the free, open-24-hours library. That's two loos (the Two Loos Low Trick) in a village of maybe 1000 inhabitants. If we can afford it, then so can much richer communities.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-23-2018   #35
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Incidentally, how many books on photography, or featuring photography, has anyone found so for? For me, just one book of photographs and a handful of photographically illustrated books: mostly cookbooks and the occasional biography.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-23-2018   #36
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Incidentally, how many books on photography, or featuring photography, has anyone found so for? For me, just one book of photographs and a handful of photographically illustrated books: mostly cookbooks and the occasional biography.

Cheers,

R.
I found a Hedgecoe book in the Bosham telephone box library. What I do notice, being costal, are quite a lot of maritime memoirs, nice to have a local slant.

On the 'other' topic touched on earlier see below which reflect so well on the UK's collapsing infrastructure...the report is dated December 2016, the industrial dispute is still going on.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-38265860
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Old 09-23-2018   #37
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My latest visit brought me some first printings of books by famous Dutch authors as W.F. Hermans and Jan Wolkers in nice condition (not far from the place were sometimes Focomats IIc are found).


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Old 09-23-2018   #38
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As friendly as that trend can be, piles of used books randomly left by individuals in abandoned phone kiosks or on shelves built here and there in our cities just cannot be called "libraries" and aren't to be confused with real public libraries services sometimes settled in the streets or in public gardens (or at the beach during the summer).

Also, all public libraries in France are free. All of them are totally free for reading everything you want off their collections of books and newspapers and magazines in their rooms. The same for enjoying all their digital resources (text, music, video, etc) even if you don't own any personal computer. In both cases you haven't to get registered.

Many of them also offer some 100% free registration for physically borrowing and downloading what you want at home (using an ID and a PW).

For some of them, the registration isn't free but will cost you the price of a new pocketable book, for one year of service.

Phone kiosks converted into free books shelves are something friendly and I have something like that in the lobby of the refectory where I use to have my lunch. So far I found three of four interesting books there and I also left some of mine, for someone to take them. But by no means can it be called a "public library".

About alternative offers for people living away from any real public library, see also :

https://www.librarieswithoutborders.org/ideasbox/
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Old 09-23-2018   #39
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As friendly as that trend can be, piles of used books randomly left by individuals in abandoned phone kiosks or on shelves built here and there in our cities just cannot be called "libraries" and aren't to be confused with real public libraries services sometimes settled in the streets or in public gardens (or at the beach during the summer).

Also, all public libraries in France are free. All of them are totally free for reading everything you want off their collections of books and newspapers and magazines in their rooms. The same for enjoying all their digital resources (text, music, video, etc) even if you don't own any personal computer. In both cases you haven't to get registered.

Many of them also offer some 100% free registration for physically borrowing and downloading what you want at home (using an ID and a PW).

For some of them, the registration isn't free but will cost you the price of a new pocketable book, for one year of service.

Phone kiosks converted into free books shelves are something friendly and I have something like that in the lobby of the refectory where I use to have my lunch. So far I found three of four interesting books there and I also left some of mine, for someone to take them. But by no means can it be called a "public library".

About alternative offers for people living away from any real public library, see also :

https://www.librarieswithoutborders.org/ideasbox/
Then again, what else can you call them?

I fully agree that they are no substitute for proper public libraries, but they can exist alongside them. As they do in France. Sure, a lot of the books are crime novels and the like. So? It's an interesting example of material superabundance.

Increasingly, at vide greniers (swap meets, car boot sales), I have seen goods being given away -- "Gratuit" -- alongside stuff being sold.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-23-2018   #40
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They're free, unbranded, and in public spaces in Edmonton, Alberta, too. Individuals appear to have set them up here. I've used them to swap books for a couple of years. I've seen no photo books yet, but I'll try to remember to donate some this week.

BTW, I love our city's free (not even a membership fee!) public libraries.
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