February 16, 2018

Mindy Reed | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Innovators

Mindy Reed


Managing Librarian, Bookstore Manager, Austin Public Library, TX

MLIS, University of Texas at Austin, 1997

@recycledreadstx; austinpubliclibrary.tumblr.com; pinterest.com/recycledreadstx; recycledreads.org; facebook.com/recycledreads

Photo by Bob Stefko

Up with Upcycling

Recycled Reads, the bookstore Mindy Reed helped start as a home for discarded books from the Austin Public Library, embodies what Reed loves most about being a librarian: the mission of social justice. In this case, to make sure no book goes to waste.

Before establishing Recycled Reads in 2008, the library’s overstock and outdated editions were scattered across folding tables a few weekends each year and put up for sale. No one paid much attention to what happened to the books left behind. “I thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way,’ ” says Reed.

Now, Recycled Reads offers a permanent place to browse excess books and any profits go back into the library. Through workshops, leftover books are “upcycled” into everything from practical planters to centerpieces for Austin’s annual Department of Education gala. Once the craft ideas are exhausted, unwanted books eventually become construction materials through a carefully chosen partnership with Goodwill Industries.
For Reed, who has a background in corporate marketing and management, running the store came naturally.

“Going green,” on the other hand, was new to her. “I tell people I’m actually what I call a reluctant environmentalist,” she says.
Reed is now an evangelist for Austin’s “green weeding practices,” spreading them across the country with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. When librarians ask Reed about the bureaucratic hurdles to starting their own Recycled Reads, her inner saleswoman comes out, telling them, “Never take the first ‘No.’ ”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.