This is how it worked:
The Portland Public Library took 200 books that were on their discard pile and gave them to 200 artists to do as they wish. Now the brilliant part- Once the artists were finished with their piece it went back to the library where it was re-entered into the library system and became available for check out. Inter-Library loan no less so it is feasible that if you see something you like you can check it out here in Seattle!
The New York Times had a nice article on the project back in April (with specific instructions on how to check out the books).
and thanks to Sarah's Books for the lead.