Now Vending

Where to Get Free Books at the Push of a Button

A book vending machine at the Northeast Multi-Service Center makes a small contribution to the still-ailing Houston Public Libraries.

By Morgan Kinney November 29, 2017

Shutterstock 490081669 ezv0cd

Houston Public Libraries have been flexible after Harvey knocked out several branch locations.

Lost among the litany of Hurricane Harvey's victims are the seven Houston Public Library branches still out of commission from storm-related damage. Spread across the city—from Meyerland to Memorial to East Houston—these libraries will remain closed for up to 18 months, eliminating a community center vital for adult pursuits like job training and internet access, as well as essential childhood services, like supporting literacy (it's pretty hard to read without access to a book or two).

Lakewood Neighborhood Library, located in East Houston, remains closed following the hurricane damage, although it's set up a temporary location at the nearby Northeast Multi-Service Center. That's where you'll find new book vending machine installed by JetBlue.

Essentially, the vending machine is a souped-up Little Free Library, set to dispense some 25,000 books throughout December. The selection will be a curated range of books geared to children 14 and under, a welcome upgrade from the mix of unwanted Tom Wolfe novels and grocery store romances endemic to the aforementioned LFLs. The best part of the machine? All books dispensed are for keeps, not lending.

To be clear, a single vending machine is not HPL's grand solution to the closures, but rather a part of JetBlue's "Soar with Reading" initiative, a program launched in 2011 "designed to inspire and encourage kids' imaginations to take flight through reading." However cringey the premise, the free books are more than welcome.

And if you needed a piece of good news about our libraries: HPL has waived all late fees through Jan. 2, 2018, so don't fret if your copy of Tropic of Capricorn is long past due.

Book vending machine at Northeast Multi-Service Center, 9720 Spaulding St. 832-395-0470. More info at

Show Comments