The name of the this blog is Libraries Aren't Just Books Anymore. However, for this entry anyway, I am going to change the name to Libraries Aren't Just Buildings Anymore. The Little Free Library is a grassroots movement that brings books to where people are to create a sense of community. Isn't that what it is all about.
The little library that could. . .
Published On Sat Sep 17 2011 Toronto Star
Leslie Scrivener Feature Writer
On Felton Place, a residential street in Madison, Wis., there is a very small library holding about 20 books. Not much bigger than a bird house, the little library is of rustic construction. A door adds to the charm and to the notion that the books are to be valued and protected. It belongs to retired professor Marshall Cook and his wife Ellen. Within three kilometres of their house, there are a dozen more little libraries, each with an ever-changing assortment of books. Look at the titles. There’s something for everyone. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson, Pippi in the South Seas by Astrid Lindgren and even Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul IV. It’s based on the pay it forward principle. Take a book, leave a book. The Cook’s library is part of the Little Free Library project to spread tiny libraries and the love of reading around the United States and beyond. The project started in 2009, the idea of Wisconsin men Rick Brooks and Todd Bol, two recession-era Andrew Carnegies. “A book shelf where you share books is a great idea,” says Brooks, 55, “but these little houses for books appeal to people’s emotional needs for friends and neighbours, a sense of community and feeling that we are all in this together.” He adds: “Go to a bookstore, there are so many books it’s overwhelming.” Still, the turnover in a little library can be impressive. At a Little Free Library outside the Indie Coffee shop in Madison, more than 1,000 books have changed hands since November. Most little libraries are in public areas, though some are also in front yards. Little libraries are not a dustbin for a reader’s discards. “Don’t think of this as a way to get rid of your books,” says Brooks, “but to share your favourite books or those that may have changed your life.” Bol, a 63-year old who travels around Wisconsin with a trailer full of little libraries, says people are often reluctant to sell their books. “But when they share books they are sharing something of themselves.” The little libraries cost about $350. They can be ordered or built do-it-yourself from architectural plans. The men have built about 100, most in the Madison area, but they have had 42,000 inquiries, including some from Canada. Here in Toronto, where threats of closures and reduced services threaten one of the most successful library systems in the world, little libraries may be just the thing. We could see them strung like little hobbit houses along the bike paths or in parks or outside the houses of public-spirited citizens and officials. The mayor might even want a no-frills little library stocked with belt-tightening titles for everyone’s edification: Profit Building: Cutting Costs Without Cutting People; The Budget Kit: The Common Cents Money Management Workbook;Rethink: A Business Manifesto for Cutting Costs and Boosting Innovation and, of course, Small is Beautiful. For more information, visit littlefreelibrary.org