Little Free Libraries

Posted January 15, 2020 at 5:49 am by

For such a small island com­mu­ni­ty way up in the north­west cor­ner of the coun­try, we have quite a few “Lit­tle Free Libraries”, at least 6 that we know of. Louise Dus­trude shares this report on them… 

Lin­da Thomp­son is a retired pub­lic librar­i­an, and so her hus­band Gary’s gift to her for her 70th birth­day was a Lit­tle Free Library – a charm­ing­ly dec­o­rat­ed box with a front door and filled with books to be shared with any­one who looks inside.

It’s been up since March of last year, in Green­way Park and right in front of their home.

She curates the books care­ful­ly and puts a sou­venir book­mark inside each one.

Those who sign up on the web­site littlefreelibrary.org get a char­ter sign with a num­ber, and Lin­da’s num­ber is 74788.

My fam­i­ly gave me one in 2014, and our num­ber is 14081. So the num­bers are boom­ing, show­ing the pop­u­lar­i­ty of these sym­bols of neigh­bor­li­ness and shar­ing and the love of books.

Ours is down­town, on the cor­ner of A Street and Nichols, and was, I believe, the first on the island. We ded­i­cat­ed it with a short cer­e­mo­ny, where then-May­or Car­rie Lach­er spoke. A pub­lic library employ­ee, she said, “I’m not a real librar­i­an, but I play one at work.”

You can watch the cer­e­mo­ny on this video:

Rotary Club mem­bers have built two such lit­tle libraries here.

One is next to the children’s play­ground at the Fair­grounds, and is ded­i­cat­ed to books for children.

The oth­er is at Roche Har­bor Resort, and is pri­mar­i­ly stocked with books for grownups. Mem­bers won’t say who built them, because Rotary empha­sizes “ser­vice above self.” Rotary Inter­na­tion­al is a part­ner with the nation­al Lit­tle Free Library organization.

One of the more recent lit­tle libraries on the island is at the inter­sec­tion of Miller Road and Three Cor­ner Lake Road. Dick Barnes, the for­mer ten­nis coach at the high school, built it to help dis­pense the books he col­lects at Com­mu­ni­ty Trea­sures and elsewhere.

Dick has a long his­to­ry with used book­stores, and once worked at one at 64 Char­ing Cross Road in Lon­don, just down the road from the famed 84 Char­ing Cross Road of book and movie fame. The one where he worked was known col­lo­qui­al­ly as “The Bomb Shop” because it was a Com­mu­nist Par­ty bookshop.

Now he fills in occa­sion­al­ly at Serendip­i­ty for own­ers Car­ol Jack­son and Dilys Good­man, and he vol­un­teers at Com­mu­ni­ty Trea­sures, sort­ing through the enor­mous num­bers of books they receive, and dis­pers­ing them one way or anoth­er through­out the community.

There is one oth­er on the island, whose own­er prefers to avoid publicity.

What do all these peo­ple have in com­mon? They love books and want to share that love with every­one else.

In 2009 Todd Bol of Hud­son, Wis­con­sin, built a mod­el of a one-room school­house. It was a trib­ute to his moth­er; she was a teacher who loved to read. He filled it with books and put it on a post in the front yard. The neigh­bors and friends loved it, so he built sev­er­al more and gave them away.

Bol and a friend then con­ceived the idea of try­ing to build and place 2,501 lit­tle libraries around the coun­try, one more than the pub­lic libraries fund­ed in the 19th cen­tu­ry by Andrew Carnegie.

There are now more than 90,000 offi­cial LFLs in 91 coun­tries, not to men­tion the enor­mous num­bers of oth­ers that don’t claim the title and nev­er have signed in.

A few (maybe more than a few) peo­ple have copied the idea, build­ing lit­tle free pantries to give away food, or in some cas­es pet food.

Do you need a book or two, or sev­er­al? Go help your­self. And then when you feel like shar­ing put anoth­er book, or sev­er­al, in a Lit­tle Free Library for oth­ers to enjoy.

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Categories: Arts, Community, Entertainment

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