post-it note array of early neighborhood book exchange questions.

On the value of exploratory research

I don’t know whether neighborhood book exchanges live up to the claims of providing ‘icebreakers’ or ‘literary watercoolers’ for passersby. But I do know that inventorying a book exchange in the early morning rain tends to prompt conversation—at least the “what are you doing?” variety.

After explaining that I was contributing to a study of neighborhood book exchanges, most left it at that. But several probed further: “what’s your hypothesis?”

My answer, ”It’s not that kind of research. It’s exploratory.”, was always received with dubious or dismissive looks.

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