On the now decommissioned K.I. Sawyer military base, close to a little town named Gwinn south of Marquette, resident Melissa Derby can often be found in an old pick-up truck dropping off books to rural residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
When the military based closed, Gwinn descended into poverty. Now, many residents rely on Facebook groups and pages that enable people to connect and swap everything from baby clothes to appliances for free. Derby got ahold of some books and offered them for free, and they were immediately snatched up. That sparked an idea; Derby decided to start a bookmobile to fill the need for books in the rural area.
Derby sent out a request asking people to donate books that they no longer needed. Soon, books came flooding in by the thousands. She estimates she currently has around 10,000 books in her house. Now, she drives them to anyone in the U.P. who asks for them, free of charge, as a way to promote reading in the region.