What would you include in your own “little library”?
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In recent years, little libraries of all shapes and sizes have popped up. They could be found on street corners and sidewalks across the United States. These were often built by community members. They were hoping to share their book collection with their neighbors. These "Little Free Libraries" are like a modern-day iteration of the classic bookmobile. Minneapolis, Minnesota, even hosted the first Little Free Library Festival, where book fans and people with a do-it-yourself streak came together to promote literacy in their communities.
For the most part, Little Free Libraries have more in common with book-sharing shelves in hostels, local laundromats, coffee shops and other public spaces than the traditional public library. Based on a philosophy of "take a book, leave a book," these little libraries can take many forms, from birdhouse-like wooden structures to repurposed newspaper vending machines, Robert Wirsing writes for the Bronx Times.
The Little Free Library organization began when a resident of Hudson, Wisconsin, named Todd Bol built a little model of a one-room schoolhouse, filled it with books and installed it in his front yard as a tribute to his late mother in 2009. Together with a local educator named Rick Brooks, the two began installing Little Free Libraries across Wisconsin and sharing the idea with people across the country. According to their website, by 2011 there were at least 400 free libraries tucked into nooks and crannies of cities across the U.S.
"Something we long for in this digital age is that connection between people," Bol tells Margret Aldrich for Book Riot. "I want to show how Little Free Library is about readers inspiring readers inspiring readers. It goes on and on."
While Little Free Libraries might seem like a harmless and innocent means to promote literacy and share books with neighbors, at least a few of the roadside lending libraries have caused minor legal kerfuffles. According to the Los Angeles Times' Michael Schaub, officials in Los Angeles and Shreveport, Louisiana, have told some residents that their homemade libraries violated city codes and that they would have to remove them. In both cases, city officials told the little libraries' caretakers that they were obstructions and they could face fines if the lending libraries weren't removed.
Still, for the most part Little Free Libraries have been embraced by their communities. For anyone interested in making their own at home, the organization has posted helpful tips and guides for building and installing the little book lending boxes in their hometowns and neighborhoods.
Information can be obtained online at littlefreelibrary.org.
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
In which ways are a “little library” better than a conventional library?
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