CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – A South Jersey man with a dream to start a bookmobile might have started something better. Tom Martin would make a good book salesman, as you can see when he chats with passersby on the street.
“We’ve got mysteries, love stories…”
“Hey, my friend. Dean Koontz?”
…Tom gives books away.
“Yeah, every Wednesday,” he tells passersby. “Take as many as you like.”
“Our slogan is, we take books where libraries don’t go and give them away,” Tom said.
Once a week, he sets up a table across the street from the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden, “and we’re here because this is where the people are.”
Tom calls it the Camden County Pop Up Library. He started it in January 2017.
“All the books are donated,” Tom said. “I think that everybody’s that’s a reader holds onto their books. We’re a nice conduit. We can get the books into somebody else’s hands.”
Tom brings his pop-up library to different locations in Philadelphia and South Jersey several times a week.
“A real joy is when regulars come by, and I know exactly what they want,” Tom said.
When one woman stopped, Tom plucked a book from under the table. “Look at that!” he said.
“Hey! All right!” the woman said.
Tom says, a Camden sidewalk might not seem like a natural spot to find bookworms. “Some people, interestingly enough, learn to read while incarcerated,” he said. “They have a lot of times on their hands, and they’re the most voracious readers there are.”
Tom estimates he gives away about 250 books for adults and 300 books for teens and children every week. He can always use more, he said. “The books that we would like are the bestsellers, the James Pattersons, the Dean Koontz. Bibles, religious books. We always need children’s books.”
He knows wherever there are people, there are readers.
Tom said he would love to help other people start their own pop-up libraries. He will even provide books and bins and banners. You can reach him through his website, camdencountypopuplibrary.org