Little Free Library

Not A BirdhouseA few weeks ago, a columnist in our local newspaper wrote of going out late one night to exchange her library books — long after the public library was closed. She was headed for an unexpected library, a birdhouse-sized box mounted on a wooden post on a street corner in her neighborhood. Here’s her article:

This story so tickled my fancy that I looked up the organization she credited for this book exchange, a group called Little Free Library. I wanted to know whether there was one nearer my own neighborhood.  Here is the link to the Little Free Library Home Page.

The Little Free Libraries are all over the world. Right here in cities all over the United States, as well as in Europe, Africa, South America, Asia and Australia. They are simply boxes full of books, scattered in the midst of neighborhoods right where people live. Each box may range from the size of a birdhouse or breadbox to the size of a small cupboard. Inside the box are books, lots and lots of books. Outside the box is a sign inviting the passer-by to “Take a book, leave a book.”

Not A Birdhouse continuedTheir website allows you to search a map for library sites near you. And yes — there was one not far from me! Besides the one Ms. Bryant wrote about, there are two others in this county, including one located a mere stone’s throw from where I work. After my next working day, I went to check it out.

I found it in front of a house on a side street just off the main road I drive on to work. I parked, and crunched over the snow for a closer look. Judging from the trails of footprints in the snow, several other people had visited it lately.

Inside the glass window I could see two bookshelves, each crammed with a double row of books. I browsed with interest for about five minutes, finding an eclectic assortment of everything from English Lit classics to children’s books to popular modern best-sellers. While many of them were plainly not new, all were clean and dry and in good condition. I found a copy of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and decided to take it home with me. A couple of weeks later, I returned it and took home one of the Mma Ramotswe mysteries, Tears of the Giraffe.

By that point, I was so delighted with the whole idea that I had started thinking to myself, “I want one of these. I want one in my own neighborhood. Maybe in front of my own house, or in front of my church. Someplace where I would walk past it every day. I want to fill it with my favorite books, so other people will read them.”

Okay, yes, I want a Little Free Library. At the moment, it’s not immediately do-able. These days I haven’t got the time it would require to be a truly good sponsor for such a project, to maintain and care for the book stash. Besides that, I haven’t got the carpentry skills to build it myself, nor the money. But someday… definitely a someday project.

Meanwhile, I think I’ll stop and see what’s new in the one near work. Maybe I’ll keep the Mma Ramotswe book and give them something else instead. Who knows, maybe some stranger will take home one of my favorite books and find it good.




1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. rick
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 13:30:30

    i like this idea! there aren’t any close to my house (well, not within a 25 minute drive), but there is one about 4 miles from my office.


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