There were actually some very positive things going on at the Republican National Convention, so long as you kept your attention away from what was happening inside Quicken Loans Arena.
CLEVELAND—Even in a Public Square jammed with colorful advocates of every cause, both marginal and mainstream, Jonathan Harris stood out.
"I'm spreading the love of reading," said the branch manager of the Aurora Memorial Public Library in Portage County, whose jerry-rigged bookmobile—a milk crate filled with paperbacks strapped to the back of his bike—was simple yet effective.
No sooner had Harris paused before the Terminal Tower when M'Ryah Holmes, 11, and her sister Rameerah, 10, were upon him, eagerly looking through his selection, being given away to anyone who would take them.
Why do they like to read?
|Mavis Holmes with daughters M'Ryah, (left) and Rameerah.
Why is reading important?
"The reason it's very important is for them to understand their civil rights," said Holmes, an assistant instructor at a high school. "To get an education and understand the process. You can't have access to freedom without being literate. Without reading, you don't have access to freedom."
An hour later I ran into Harris in the park next to Public Square, when he stopped his bike for Muireall Brown, 19, of Florida.
"Do you have anything?" she asked.
"What do you like to read?" asked Harris. His white baseball cap declared "Make America Read Again" and Babar the elephant peeked out from the tattoo on his right bicep. Harris has been working in libraries since he was 16—his father Mike was also a librarian.
"I like a lot of historical-fiction," Brown said.
This is kind of a busman's holiday for him—taking off work as a librarian to peddle a bike around, working as a librarian. Why?
"It gives me a chance to talk about reading, about libraries, about funding.
Brown didn't find a book she liked. But a fellow medic—she was at the convention with Rust Belt Medics, tending to cases of sunburn and dehydration among the protesters—did find a book to his liking.
"The Time Machine by H.G. Wells," said Taylor Morris, 26, of Atlanta. "I almost took the prequel to Dune that Frank Herbert's son wrote. But I didn't want to take too many books."