Urban libraries pop up around the metro

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Books are sacred to many, but one local bookstore owner says too many are being tossed.

Tom Wayne, the co-owner of Prosperos Books, says thousands and thousands are thrown out every single day, but a new project is hoping to change that.

"As active and involved members of our community, we always want to do things that will improve our community," said Jennifer Appell, the general manager of Succotash.

She says they decided to be one of the first businesses with an urban library.

"Anything that promotes literacy is always something that we advocate," added Appell. "When people are here on the weekends and there`s a wait, it gives folks something to do."

Back in 2007, Prosperos Books had a book burning to draw attention to the 20,000 something books they had with no place to put them.

"As a satirical statement on a culture that has a disconnect between what it says and what it does, in that, people hold books sacred, but retailers and libraries throw books away, they landfill them by the container load," said Wayne.

Wayne says it`s a regular process people outside the industry don`t really know about.

"We process thousands of books a week," Wayne said. "You can`t possibly keep everything that comes in the door."

"After talking with Tom, and discussing how many books he`d thrown away, and how many boxes of books would show up on his sidewalk in front of his store overnight - it began to be a storage problem," said Kevin McGraw, a local artist who is part of the urban libraries project.

McGraw`s friend had boxes leftover in storage from a magazine that closed. They teamed up with Wayne and decided to re-purpose them, similar to the Little Free Libraries in neighborhoods, but outside businesses around the metro.

"I just think it`s really a great thing to offer those books to people, especially if they`re just going to get thrown away," said McGraw.

"Books that we might not keep we`ll put aside and a couple times a month I’ll run around town and fill up these boxes," said Wayne.

Those involved in the project say the hope is to put even more boxes around the city.

McGraw says he hopes he can also tie this into the Mayor's "Turn the Page" campaign to encourage reading.

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