Owning a library used to be the purview of the rich or the wildly rich. Think of the wildly rich Carnegies and their libraries. But now I own a library too. Or rather my neighborhood owns a library and I am its steward, providing the property, the building and administration. I wish I could say I came up with the idea, but the folks at Little Free Library came up with this brilliant idea worth spreading; find a place, erect a bird-house-like structure to house the books, let people know they can take a book or give a book, and voila, the world has another library!
My cousin sent me a radio story about the Little Free Libraries a year ago and as fast as you can say dusty paperback I ordered one of their library nameplates for $25. My template is inscribed with number 1162. A year later, by the time I finally got around to erecting my library and uploading my photo of the library to the organization’s global map, the libraries numbered more than 5000! I have joined the ranks of library stewards from Pakistan to Brazil, the Congo to Norway.
My library, I mean my neighborhood’s library is most popular with the children who pass it on their way to the elementary school two blocks away. But all kinds of books have passed through its little walls: philosophy, comic books, history, trashy paperbacks, music, history, cooking, and even a singing Sponge Bob book.
Aside from the obvious benefits of putting books in circulation in my neighborhood, the library has conferred upon us a few side benefits:
I have culled my shelves of many a book gathering dust, incrementally lightening the load of ‘stuff’ that I am convinced is part of the drag on our journey through life.
Since my boys check the library every day, we usually have the first crack at new books before we put them back in circulation (Shel Silverstein’s Falling Up is our current favorite).
And perhaps most importantly, the library gives me a reason to engage my neighbors, explaining the mind boggling simplicity of the rules, making recommendations, and asking them to leave some books of their own.
So when you come by to see us, visit our library, take a book or leave a book. Thelibrary belongs to you.