At a recent ACFW Minnesota Chapter (MN NICE) meeting, one member, Heather Edwards, enthralled the group talking about her Little Free Library journey. (If you’re not familiar with Little Free Library, check out their website: http://littlefreelibrary.org/). Heather convinced me that I need a Little Free Library in my front yard. That will happen this summer, assuming our snow ever melts!
So, let me introduce you to Heather. She’s been working for Lillie Surburban Newspapers (LillieNews.com) as a journalist and columnist since 1997. She studied theatre and English at Winona State University, is active in community theatre, and is finishing up her first book. She enjoys volunteering with children and animals, and she’s a super-fun and caring person!
Heather’s Free Little Library
by Heather Edwards
It’s a warm day in the middle of summer, and I am spying on the people sitting outside my window.
When they have finished reading, they can return the book to the little library, or they can take it home. On their next visit, they can return the book or keep it and perhaps bring another book for someone else to enjoy.
That’s the idea behind the Little Free Library, a free book exchange program that has been sweeping the nation- and the world- in the past five years. The libraries–most of which are a little “bigger than a breadbox”–typically sit on posts where they are easily accessed by readers. The rules of using the little libraries are simple: “Take a book. Leave a book.”
In 2009, Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisc. built his first little library as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher and avid reader. He filled his library with books and put it on a post in his front yard. It became a regular stop for many of his neighbors.
The idea of little free libraries spread rapidly through word of mouth and media attention. According to the Little Free Library Web site (littlefreelibrary.org), in January 2014, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries throughout the world was between 10,000 and 12,000, with many more being erected every day. Little Free Libraries was established as a non-profit organization in 2012.
Those who want to be a steward for their own little free library can either purchase a library-making kit or create one of their own. Building plans are available on the organization’s Web site.
My husband purchased ours through the Web site. He settled the library on the corner outside our home, adding solar lighting (for our nighttime readers), paving stones and the little stone bench.
Since then we have had a variety of library visitors, and quite a few regulars. There’s our neighbor who pauses at our library when he is walking his dog in the early morning. They sit in the early light of dawn, reading passages from the Bible I keep in the library.
There’s the lady who stops by every week, swaps a book with one of her own and leaves a nice message in our guest book.
There’s the chattering, excited school kids who walk by my house on their way to the nearby playground. When I know they’re coming, I make sure the library is brimming with children’s books. They nearly clean me out as they walk by; I’ve assured their teachers that I am thrilled with this.
As a writer and a former school librarian and a proud bibliophile, I love sharing books.
Since the bookshelves in my home are forever cramped to the point of overflowing, I always have plenty of material to keep the library stocked.
And every once in a while, I glance out my front window and catch people enjoying my library. They look happy. They look as if they’ve been blessed by a stranger’s kindness.
You can’t put a price on that. Just like you can’t measure the worth of free books.
If you are interested in having your own little free library, or you’d simply like to visit the little free libraries in your town, log on to www.littlefreelibrary.org.
Do you have a Little Free Library? If so, I’d love to hear about it!
Note: The pictures in this post aren’t of Heather’s Little Free Library because it’s currently buried beneath the mountains of snow dropped on Minnesota. 🙂 Thank you to Little Free Library for giving permission to use images from their website!
Want to know more about Little Free Library?