Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tiny library puts the word out on the street

Another in the series "Libraries Aren't Just Buildings Anymore'.

A week ago, a little house-shaped cabinet with a glass front door appeared on a post outside Eleise Theuer's home on Redgate Avenue in Norfolk. The hut on a pole is about as big as a dorm-room fridge, maybe a tad smaller.
A sign beneath says:
"Take a book - Leave a book
Read a book - Return a book."
Theuer filled it with old books for the first time last Saturday and waited to see what would happen.
"It's really funny," she said. "We call it 'the human bird feeder.' We sit in the window and watch it."
Theuer's curbside library soon got its first customer.
"Somebody took a sewing book by Lotta Jansdotter right away, and a classic. That night, five more books were missing. Then, the second day, we got 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' and some sort of Clive Cussler book. But more are going out than coming in so far," she said. "It's kind of exciting. It's like Easter every day, to see what's in there."
This book giveaway has a wider following than people walking in front of Theuer's house. Theuer has heard of another free book box in Norfolk on 38th Street, and the Woman's Day magazine on stands now contains an article and web address, LittleFreeLibrary.org, the Wisconsin-based nonprofit from which readers can download building plans for their own weatherproof sidewalk bookshelves and join in to promote literacy and book exchanges.
Theuer's husband, Jim, an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, heard about the organization. Eleise Theuer told her dad, Jim Bolton, who built the book cabinet for her with a chimney, painted red, and a shiny brass knob on its door.
By midweek, the little door had been opened and shut pretty often. A dozen books were gone. Theuer is fascinated by what people took, calling the experience an interesting anthropological study.
"I have a house full of boys, and they laughed at me for putting gardening books and sewing books in there, but they've gone first," she said.
"My husband likes military books, and a couple of those have gone. We're kind of competing to see what's popular."
Krys Stefansky, 757-446-2043, krys.stefansky@pilotonline.com

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