Friday, April 5, 2013

A Look at Little Free Libraries

by Jodi Bosin

I discovered my first Little Free Library this past summer in my hometown of Philadelphia, on an undisturbed Old City street filled with quiet stores and restaurant suppliers. The freestanding construction on the sidewalk looked like a large birdhouse on a wooden pole. It was filled with books and inscribed with the words “Take a book, leave a book." I was in awe of this small and wonderful structure. Naturally, I returned the next day to engage immediately in its instructions.

Todd Bol's original Little Free Library
in Hudson, Wisconsin
The phenomenon of the Little Free Library began with Todd Bol's beautiful tribute to his bibliophile mother. Three years ago the Hudson, Wisconsin, native put up a miniature schoolhouse on a post outside his home and filled it with books to be borrowed. A few friends followed suit, and today there are thousands of miniature libraries in over thirty countries across the globe.

The Little Free Library movement is now a nonprofit run out of Wisconsin by Bol and his friend Rick Brooks. Their website offers the chance to register a Little Free Library for a small fee and purchase a pre-built model (although creating a library from scratch is always encouraged). Registration offers the chance to be listed on the Little Free Library Map of the World and receive special offers and updates from the organization.

Cambridge's Little Free Library
run by Roberts and Belove
When I returned to Boston, I instantly sought out all the Little Free Libraries in the area (as you may have already done sometime around the last paragraph), and it turns out that we have a few of these small sanctuaries right here in our city. Laura Roberts and Ed Belove are the stewards of the Little Free Library at 1715 Cambridge Street, and the anonymously created library in Jamaica Plain stands at the corner of South and Bardwell. Jan Gardner writes about the Cambridge edition in the Boston Globe:

Roberts has reported to her what she sees from her window. “People are stocking it. People are stopping and talking and taking pictures,” she said. She and her husband supplied the first few piles of books but now others are making donations. On a recent day, “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway stood next to “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” by David Sedaris...Roberts and Belove are longtime members of Friends of the Cambridge Public Library. The opening of their own little library is no commentary on its grander relation. “Libraries big and small,” Roberts said. “We love them all."

The full article can be found here.

One might ask, won't the books be stolen, or the libraries vandalized? These things can happen, but a world filled with Little Free Libraries is a world of hope and hungry readers. With Spring coming upon us, it is the perfect time for a pilgrimage to these small treasure troves. Just remember to bring an unwanted book that needs a home.

No comments:

Post a Comment