Street Books: Serving our host city

SAA Partners with Street Books

Founded in June 2011, Street Books is a bicycle-powered mobile library that serves people who live outside in Portland.

Street Books

We use an old-school library pocket and a card that patrons sign and leave with us. Patrons are issued an official Street Books library card without being required to show proof of address or identification. During our shifts, patrons stop by to check out and return library books. They’re invited to be photographed with their book, and these photos and stories are collected on our Patrons page (

We are committed to providing good literature, and conversations about literature, for those who are pushed to the margins. Since our founding we have checked out thousands of paperbacks in all genres, from sci-fi to romance to memoir. Street Books fosters engagement between patrons and the housed community—and good books and conversation form the bridge.

To read more about Street Books, including how to make a donation to fund librarian shifts, bike maintenance, community outreach, and book purchases:

We welcome your donations of paperback books and reading glasses.


If you would like to donate a book (or more than one) and/or reading glasses, a collection site will be available throughout the conference near the registration desk.  If you do not want to pack books and glasses in your luggage, there are places nearby where you can purchase them (see list below).  Street Books is also in need of monetary donations and you can find out more by visiting their page:


According to one of the librarians: Our patrons’ taste covers the reading spectrum, so [you] can’t go wrong–though books like Louie L’Amour and Kerouac are always favorites.  And anything in Spanish is greatly appreciated.

Places to purchase books (not a comprehensive list)

Near the Oregon Convention Center (OCC) – walking times included, but remember to check on public transportation options ( )

  • Barnes & Noble
    1317 Lloyd Center (in the Lloyd Center Shopping Mall)
    About a 16-minute walk, 0.8 miles from the OCC
  • Broadway Books
    1714 NE Broadway St
    About 23-minute walk, 1.1 miles from the OCC
  • Title Wave Used Book Store
    216 NE Knott St
    A Multnomah County Library shop
    About 23-minute walk, 1.1 miles from the OCC.
  • Goodwill
    1231 NE Broadway St
    About 21-minute walk, 1.0 miles from the OCC

Near the Hilton – walking times included, but remember to check on public transportation options ( )

  • Powell’s
    1005 W Burnside St
    About 11-minute walk, .5 miles from the Hilton
  • Friends of the Library
    1020 SW Taylor St Suite 439
    About 5-minute walk, 0.2 miles from the Hilton

Places to purchase reading glasses (many of the bookstores will also have reading glasses available)

  • Dollar Tree
    1420 Lloyd Center
    About 20-minute walk, 0.9 miles from the OCC
  • Walgreens
    1620 NE Grand Ave
    About 13-minute walk, 0.6 miles from the OCC



The Wonderful World of Powell’s Books

Contributed by: Cris Paschild

Cris Paschild is the head of special collections and the university archivist at Portland State University Library.  As a local high school student, she cut class on a regular basis to roam the aisles of Powell’s.  

Powell’s Books: “the largest used and new bookstore in the world”


A visit to Portland would not be complete for any book lover without a visit to Powell’s. In a city that has undergone great changes, Powell’s Books remains a constant.  Founded in 1971 by Walter Powell and later purchased by his son, Michael Powell, its flagship store has been at its current location since 1979.   Dubbed Powell’s City of Books, it fills an entire downtown block.  The labyrinth of its color-coded rooms and its three levels, home to 3,500 subject sections, are best navigated with a map, available in print at all entrances.  

The shelves of Powell’s hold almost as many used books as new.  Locals still sweep their home for books to bring to the buying counter, only to find themselves walking out with bags full again, unable to resist picking up another round of titles immediately after.  There are seemingly endless temptations for all, whatever the interest.  The Orange Room hosts rows and rows of cookbooks of every cuisine and for every technique.  The Yellow Room, home to the Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Horror, Thrillers and Manga sections, may be the best for book cover eye candy, rivaled only by the immediately adjacent Graphic Novel section.  For those looking for an extra special souvenir, the Pearl Room on the third floor is home to the rare book room.  

As online shopping boomed and corporate entities rose to dominance, the always independent Powell’s had to respond accordingly, establishing a retail website.  Nonetheless, as larger bookstore chains like Borders fell, the long-term fate of Powell’s appeared uncertain too.  However, as the market stabilized, so did Powell’s and today the store is busier than ever.  And while it has recently added more gifts and tourist-focused bling to its inventory, books are still its heart and soul.  The space itself has also managed to retain much of its old school Portland feel.  The main aisles may become congested with out of town visitors but quiet spaces for browsing and on-the-spot reading still abound.  

If you find yourself wanting to linger, there’s a coffee shop onsite.  Or you can take a break at one of the nearby restaurants, bars or bakeries.  McMenamins’ Zeus Café, two blocks up Burnside, is a good choice for a relaxed brunch or lunch in a building that holds its own share of Portland history.  

And as July gets closer, be sure to check out Powell’s calendar for visiting authors and other book-related events.