San Antonio’s Literacy Caravan & Austin’s Street Books ATX

Since the Literacy Caravan's inception,  more than 125,000 individuals have taken home a free book.


SAN ANTONIO—James Stewart, a retired staff sergeant, drives the San Antonio Public Library Foundation’s Literacy Caravan. Stewart has driven the colorful RV around the city for the last eleven years, sharing free books with children and adults.


“We give books to everyone,” Stewart, 75, told the San Antonio Express-News. “We don’t discriminate.” He’s been there from the start as the driver of the first RV, sponsored by Scholastic Books. The first youngsters aboard the old RV were three of his grandchildren. His job title says “driver,” but he’s much more. He’s responsible for maintenance of the vehicle, training the coordinators and sharing his longtime love of books.


In 2011, the United Way took up sponsorship of the caravan that visits school districts, libraries, child development centers, and festivals. In 2018, the Mays Family Foundation provided the 2015 Fleetwood Bounder RV that Stewart drives.


In 2008, Scholastic, the world’s largest bookseller, and the San Antonio Library Foundation joined forces to bring a mobile classroom on wheels to San Antonio and Bexar County. Today, donors and supporters keep the Literacy Caravan on the road and filled with literacy and art activities; spaces for story time, creative exploration, and motor skill development; and everyone leaves with a book.


The goal of the Literacy Caravan is to promote family literacy and foster a love of reading, increasing the number of library-card holders in the San Antonio community. More than ten thousand residents from all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds are served each year. Since its inception, more than 125,000 individuals have taken home a free book.


AUSTIN—It’s difficult to check out a book from a public library if you’re homeless. In order to get a library card, people need to present a valid and acceptable form of identification, as well as proof of address.


Recognizing a need, Patrick Crowley brings books to Austin’s homeless communities by bicycle, part of the mission of Street Books ATX. Three days a week, he rides the library bicycle from East Austin to different places across the city to lend books to those without a fixed address. 


Inspired by the organizers of a Portland-based nonprofit who began a mobile library program, Crowley created a program for Austin two years ago. “We grew up in probably not the best of living conditions, and we experienced poverty ourselves. By reading, I could put myself in a place that was far outside of my day-to-day existence, and I learned a lot of things about people and the other parts of the world that I never thought I’d get to see,” he told Spectrum News


A 2019 SXSW award winner, Street Books ATX currently has about five hundred books in circulation, and Crowley welcomes donations.


Currently, the Literacy Caravan is funded for seventy visits annually. For the schedule, visit free community visits. The Literacy Caravan is booked for the July 2019 – June 2020 year. To be added to the 2019-2020 waitlist, click here.


For more information and to make a donation visit: ​