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 might be found on street corners and sidewalks. Often built by community members 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, held the first Little Free Library Festival. Book fans and people with a do-it-yourself streak came together. They promoted literacy in their communities.
For the most part, Little Free Libraries have more in common with book-sharing shelves in hostels, 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. They include birdhouse-like wooden structures to repurposed newspaper vending machines. This is according to Robert Wirsing, who writes for the Bronx Times.
The Little Free Library organization began in 2009. A resident of Hudson, Wisconsin, named Todd Bol built a little model of a one-room schoolhouse. He filled it with books. Then he installed it in his front yard. It was a tribute to his late mother. Together with a local educator named Rick Brooks, the two began installing Little Free Libraries across Wisconsin. They shared the idea with people across the country. According to their website, by 2011 there were at least 400 free libraries. These were 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."
Little Free Libraries might seem like a harmless and innocent means to promote literacy and share books with neighbors. But at least a few of the roadside lending libraries have caused minor legal disputes. 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. They would have to remove them. In both cases, city officials told the little libraries' caretakers that they were obstructions. The operators could face fines if the lending libraries weren't removed.
Still, for the most part Little Free Libraries have been welcomed 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.
Information can be found online. Go to littlefreelibrary.org.
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
In which ways are a “little library” better than a conventional library?
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