UPDATE: Hey everybody! As you can see, we've hit our fundraising goal of $700 in one week! Hooray! Of course, the more donations we get, the more we can spread the book-love around Oberlin and beyond, so please keep spreading the word and contributing to our campaign. We can use donations beyond our initial goal to build our inventory, fund bigger and better events, and sponsor teach-ins and workshops. Additional donations will allow SWAP to go above and beyond operational expenses to provide for the Oberlin community in bigger and better ways. Many thanks to those who have donated their time and resources to help us reach our goal--now let's see how much more we can do together in the last 2 weeks of our campaign! This is just the beginning!
Who we are
We, Evan Cameron, Pablo Cerdera, Sarah Johnson, Jackson Kusiak, Joe Martin, Sophia (Zo) Paul, Dan Quigley, Silvia Sheffield, and Devon Wells, are the founding management team of SWAP: The Oberlin Book Co-op. We’re all students at Oberlin College, and we’ve all held leadership roles in other cooperatives. Collectively we have have a rich knowledge base and skill set that includes library science; web/database development; community organizing, education, and outreach; event planning; consensus; facilitation; coalition building; and budget balancing.
Why Oberlin needs a book co-op
As students, we were frustrated by the options that we had for getting books for classes. Too many students are forced to buy expensive textbooks to use for a semester, and then are getting scammed into selling them back to the big corporation-owned campus bookstore for a fraction of their true value. We saw the need to create an organization that would provide a more economical and sustainable way for students to get their textbooks and create a community space for the exchange of knowledge. We want SWAP to act as a support system for education inside and outside of the academy, and hope to use our space to facilitate skillshares and knowledge exchanges.
What we’ve already done
During the spring of 2013 we developed the framework of how the co-op will function. Our mission is to make knowledge free and accessible by creating and sustaining a cooperative to exchange, share, and recycle books, and to do so democratically, sustainably, equitably, accessibly, with an emphasis on member participation. You can read more about our guiding values at the bottom of this page.
We also are committed to a dynamic collective decision-making process; members will agree upon the value of commodities, resources and labor. To start us out, we created a system of valuation for the books. Each book is assessed cooperatively by the member donating it and by a neutral party working on behalf of the co-op; the factors that determine the book’s value are usefulness (is it a text for a class?), physical condition, market value, and awesomeness.
We started advertising ourselves to the Oberlin community at the end of the semester and were happy and relieved to discover that we weren’t the only ones who thought this co-op was a great idea. We had a great kickoff event and tabled for a few weeks and over those few weeks 80 people came to us with their books, wanting to be members!
After going public at the end of last semester, we already have a space for our office/inventory and around 700 books … but only a couple bookshelves. We need your help with the bookshelves and other start-up costs. We have plans to pursue more sustainable funding for our long term operating costs, but we need to get our space set up NOW. It’s critical that we have our inventory organized and ready for the beginning of the school year.
Here’s what you can do
If you’re able to spare some dollars, we’d really appreciate it. Your donation will make immediate and tangible impact on the co-op. To show our appreciation, we’ve come up with some pretty cool perks, which you can claim on the right side of this page.
If you aren’t able to be donate money right now, we’d love your help finding people who can. Seriously, if you believe this co-op is a worthy organization, talk it up to your friends, parents, and any Oberlin alumni that you know. Encourage them to check out this campaign page.
More about our budget
Kickoff event: $45
Website expenses: $30
Office supplies: $105
Printer paper, manila folders, writing implements, paperclips, binders, office tape, rubberbands, hole puncher, etc.
Bandwidth for the website: $25
In addition to being a source of information about SWAP, the website will also soon have a database of our inventory that members will be able to search.
Space upkeep: $50
Cleaning supplies, trashbags, etc.
Inventory Expenses: $140
Book tape, stickers for categorizing books, bookends, file holders, shelf labels, filament tape, etc.
Event Expenses: $80
While most of our funds will be used for the upkeep of our space and our inventory, we also want to have events to engage and educate members and other people who might be interested in becoming involved. In our experience, the most successful events of this nature have a small budget that allows for postering around campus, snacks, etc.
Bookshelves, desk, wood/paint/screws/nails for building some custom made bookshelves that will allow us to fully utilize our small office space
More about our guiding values
Participation in the decision-making process should be encouraged and made accessible to all relevant stakeholders. It is crucial that everyone be allowed to take part in decision-making to ensure that our decisions align with our shared and communal values.
All power is inherent in the people. We define democratic control of the cooperative as ‘one member, one vote.’ No one is given special privileges because of wealth, social status or power. Democracy is a system of organization that is built to be accountable to the needs of every member.
To us, sustainability means creating a system that is built to last, both socially and environmentally. When we act and make decisions, we should use holistic systems thinking. Our structure is adaptable, such that our institution will continue to thrive over time.
Our small organization seeks to drive larger structures towards equitable distribution of power and resources. Every member is expected to act and make decisions according to the notions of fairness and justice they have developed through their lived experience.
Every aspect of our institution should be accessible to everyone. We operate within an anti-oppressive framework. No one will be discriminated against on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, religious identity, ability, nationality, citizenship status, presentation, body size, education level, political affiliation, age, housing status, OSCA membership, chronic illness, or mental health.