Mastermind 2013 Honorable Mention: Bookleggers Public Library

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Miami New Times' Mastermind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This year, we received more than 100 submissions, which our staff narrowed to an elite group of 30. We'll be profiling those honorable mentions, and eventually the finalists, in the weeks to come. This year's three Mastermind Award winners will be announced February 28 at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit the website.

Pop-up libraries -- what an awesome idea. Fortunately, someone already thought of it.

The Bookleggers library is a "community mobile library." BL pops up at different locations throughout the city and provides residents with free books. How cool is that? Patrons are allowed one free book, and are able to trade and/or buy more. Since 2012, the folks behind Bookleggers have been successfully filling the 305's literary void all over town.

Co-founder and Director of Bookleggers, Nathaniel Sandler, is a Miami native, freelance writer and editor for the Miami Science Museum, WLRN, The Miami Rail, Beached Miami, and the University of Miami Special Collections Library.

Sandler took a moment to give us some insight into the secret underbelly of public libraries. Just kidding! But he did have this to say:

"The best part about doing this for the last six months or so has been seeing people's reactions to getting a book they truly want for free. It's really touching. I've had old and young people just look at me in utter amazement and gratitude. An old man in a wheelchair cried to me at our Miami Book Fair event. It was as terrifying as it sounds, yet completely beautiful. I want our city to keep having that moment."

In first grade, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Figment the Purple Dragon.

Favorite books of all time?

I have decided here and now that I will never answer this question in an interview the same way. I did one with Beached Miami and gave them three different books I really like, so if you want six answers total then float over there. It seems boring to just suggest the same three all the time. And I have a boredom-related death pact with [University of Wynwood founder] P. Scott Cunningham which I am comfortably favored to survive.

1. Petersburg by Andrei Bely

2. Tlooth by Harry Mathews

3. Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin

Kudos, a delicious beverage, and an extra book, if you ever show up to a Bookleggers event dressed as-- or actually in a state of being-- Melmoth the Wanderer.

What makes Bookleggers "masterminds"?

Books! Free books! Is the sculptor/designer/painter/trapeze artist that applied for this grant giving anything to the people for free? That they can take home? To have and hold, through sickness and health? Let's do this, Miami. Have a book. Trade a book. Love books.

How can Miami libraries improve?

This is a question, unfortunately, not that many people are thinking about. And I think the answer to the question is to get more people thinking about them. People like to get fired up about how the Marlins Park money was spent. It's always been totally insane to me that public money is spent on a building we all have to pay $100 to go inside. Some art museums are public to a point, but still cost money to enter and don't have a comfortable place to sit and stay. These are not public buildings in the truest sense of the word, however, libraries are; they are free to enter, relax, and contemplate within. If we cared more about what they looked like, then maybe our population would grow, learn, and progress further then we have already. Libraries have always changed and will continue to do so. Just because the book is having identity problems doesn't mean that we should forsake the last truly public indoor space we have left as Americans.

If you were to go on a writer's retreat, what five authors would you want there?

I think this question is a little bit like the one before with the favorite books, mostly because it makes me dig deep into things I've read and simultaneously try not sound trite or pretentious. So since this is my own imagined writer's retreat, and I firmly believe that too many writers hanging out together is a bad thing, I will invite the Miami Dolphins starting offensive line. I know things will get through to me if they're there.

Follow Bookleggers Public Library on Twitter @bookleggers.

2013 Mastermind Award Honorable Mentions:

Kevin Arrow

Pioneer Winter

The Overthrow

The Gutter Film Series

Daniel Reskin

Manny Prieres

Nate Delinois

Reed van Brunschot

Bookleggers Public Library

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