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Little Free Library

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 7.58.10 AM

As Husband and I drove along a Cookeville street last week, he took his right hand off the steering wheel and pointed.  “Did you see that? It looked like a little house with books inside,” he said.  I quickly turned my head toward where he pointed, but I didn’t see any little house, just regular size houses, and I wondered how he could see through a window to see books inside a house.

But Husband was right.  He did see a little house with books on shelves behind a glass door.  It’s mounted on a pole right beside the sidewalk. Under the little house is a sign that reads, “Take a book.  Leave a book. Or both.”

This Little Free Library was a Mother’s Day gift to a friend, a fellow retired teacher.  She had heard about the idea of free libraries a few years ago and when she mentioned it to her son, he not only built a library for her, but also installed it and planted flowers around it.  A Little Free Library, according to littlefreelibrary.org, is a  “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, it is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book or two and bring back another book to share.  The movement was started in 2009 by Todd Bol in Wisconsin.  He built a small schoolhouse, mounted it on a post, filled it with books, and posted a sign that read FREE BOOKS.  His neighbors and friends loved it.  Then he built more small libraries and gave them away.

The word spread from neighbor to neighbor, from local to regional to national to international media, and this one-person endeavor became an international happening.  A non-profit corporation was established in May 2012, and by the end of that year over 15,000 Little Free Libraries had been registered on the online site.  These libraries are now all over the world.  From Alaska to Hawaii, from Australia to Iceland, from Italy to Ghana.

I like everything about Little Free Libraries.  Books.  Free.  Bringing neighbors and friends and strangers together.  Encouraging children and adults to read.  Encouraging conversation about books and reading.  A project started by one man in his yard that has spread throughout the world.  I’ve seen them in a few big cities like Charleston, South Carolina, and Alexandria, Virginia, but my favorite one is right here in Cookeville.

Through Facebook, Jimmie announced that she’s in the library business and issued an invitation to “Take a book. Leave a book. Or both.”  My five-year-old Grand and I did both, and we quickly dubbed her library as Ms. Jimmie’s Little House Library.  A little house filled with books, just waiting for neighbors and friends to stop by.

I wonder how many more Little Free Libraries will spring up around here – in Cookeville, Putnam County, the Upper Cumberland.  I better put on my walking shoes and find a few more books to share.  And maybe, I’ll add something to my birthday wish list:  one library.










2 Responses

  1. Susan, I loved this article. I will most likely not be one of the ones that has a ‘little free library’ as I have all I can handle at work.I do so love books and encourage any and all to read, read, read!!!



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