As a reader, I’ve always loved libraries. I remember when the library opened in my small town. I was eight and the teacher took us there on a class trip and I thought it was the most wonderful place. We didn’t have a lot of books at home, just the usual Dick and Jane and Golden Book series, and here was a whole building full of books you could take home for several weeks. I read my way through the children’s side and had graduated to the adult section by age eleven. My mother would take us to the library every Saturday to stock up, and I read my way through many a long hot summer. I still remember the familiar smell of books and the waft of cool air that hit you walking through the door, as the library was one of the few places in town with air conditioning. Of course living in the country, we needed a ride there, so imagine the convenience of having a free little library in your own neighbourhood.
Free little libraries are small neighbourhood boxes where you can borrow, take, donate or share a book…..all kinds of books. They have been popping up all over lately, just like the spring flowers, but as they are a year round venture, they must be weatherproof and snow proof. There are at least 30 registered locations in my county alone – one of the most utilized ones is near a local campsite.
I’ve been thinking about having a little library since the beginning of the pandemic, which the libraries were all closed and I found myself lending out books to neighbours I met while walking, who complained about having nothing to read, and is there anything worse for a reader.
It’s a nice way to share your love of reading, expand book access, and meet and get to know your neighbours. Last year the local Literary organization was so stockpiled with donated books that they offered temporary pop-up libraries at parks and beaches when the weather was nice, using plastic recycling blue boxes.
The Free Little Library organization (take a book, share a book) has a website, (see link) where you can officially register as a book steward (with a plaque number) if you wish, but I think I would prefer to just put one up and see how it goes. My neighbourhood is an old established one, with a mixture of retired folks and young families, but it’s a cul-de-sac, and I don’t want too much of a commitment until I see how much it will be used.
Their website says they have over 100,000 registered stewards in over 100 countries around the globe. They also have a page where they sell pre-made libraries and kits – see link – averaging around $350 plus another $175 for the spike and post. I like this blue one made out of composite so it doesn’t need painting, but it’s sold out.
These are their revenue generators, but a bit pricey, but they also have a page with a list of ideas for making your own, (see link – little libraries on a shoestring budget) such as this one here, which appears to be a storage cupboard propped up on a stool.
The local literacy organization was partnering with volunteers and high school shop classes to make some of these book sharing boxes. They were sponsoring a contest, which I didn’t win, but garage sale season is coming up, so I’ll keep my eyes open for something suitable….and books of course. They can hold up to 40 books, so I have some book shopping to do.
Thrift stores are good sources for books, plus I went to the big Rotary Book sale last month, for the $10 stuff a bag day and stocked up. I bought mostly books that I have read and enjoyed, although the children’s selection was picked over by then.
Warm weather will be here soon, and I’m looking forward to reading outside again on the deck.