We’re loving this program from the Austin Public Library, which uses discarded library books from the library’s used bookstore to create new craft projects. The programs taps smartly into a bunch of trends, from DIY and maker projects to “upcycling,” or the repurposing of waste materials into something better and more useful. ~ Laura

Laura Kraus works at Recycled Reads, the Austin Public Library’s used bookstore. “One of our main objectives is to help fulfill the City of Austin’s Zero Waste Initiative by keeping discarded library books out of the landfill. Part of the way that we help promote the City’s Zero Waste Initiative is to upcycle old books and media into crafts. We sell some of these crafts in the bookstore, but more importantly, we do programs both in the store and out in the community to teach people how to make these upcycled crafts. It’s a great way to get people to start thinking about reuse and upcycling, as opposed to only using an object once and then throwing it away.

More and more, we see Recycled Reads becoming a maker space when we present programs such as these.

We also serve as a meeting space for various community organizations, such as a ballroom dancing club and an origami club. We regularly display art from local artists, and invite them to come speak about their work.


Recycled Reads, the used bookstore for the Austin Public Library.

Here’s an example of how we are a great maker space: One recent Sunday, we had our ballroom club meeting in one area of the bookstore, while a photographer gave a lecture on his photos in the main part of the store, and in the back area, we had a group of volunteers making 3D snowflakes out of paper from old art books. Lots of creative energy! Our customers must sense it too, because we’ve had several people come in and start crafting with their own supplies at one of our tables.

We also have a blog, and have just started a weekly craft tutorial series on the blog every Friday, so be sure to check back!

Check out Recycled Reads online, and take a look at the City of Austin’s Zero Waste Initiative too.

Bring it home: We loved Laura’s comment about visitors to Recycled Reads who are starting to bring in their own supplies for crafting. Supply sharing or swapping is a great way to rejuvenate your craft projects while keeping costs relatively low. Keep boxes or bins on hand so that visitors can drop off extra supplies, and make sure you post a note specifying the kinds – and condition! – of supplies you’ll accept for donations.

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