Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Little Free Libraries - Take A Book, Leave A Book

I admit it, I have a problem.  I'm a bibliophile.  I collect books for the sake of having books. I love to read, but I certainly cannot read fast enough to justify my enormous collection of books. I just can't help it, I go to a book sale, or a thrift store and they call to me. I take a teeny peek and they look so interesting I just have to buy them to read "sometime". Friends give away books and I take them. My mania is not limited to bound matter. I also collect audiobooks - how can one drive for hours without something decent to listen to? I have 100 ebooks and counting on my ipod. Project Gutenberg is one of my regular haunts. My library card is worn and no matter how hard I try, I cannot leave the local public library without at least half a dozen books.

I have tried to trim my collection. I regularly go through all the bookcases in the house and thin out the books.  Then I put them in boxes in my workshop. I pass them on to friends. I have an Amazon store where I sell some.  It does not help that I end up paying out of pocket to ship most of them. I have donated cases of books to the library and subsequently bought them back when they didn't go on the shelves. I've donated dozens of books to our church library, but it doesn't seem to be very popular. I donate boxes of books to the veterans hospital, thrift stores and sell them for $1 a box at garage sales. Somehow, it is not very fulfilling. 

That's why, when I read about Little Free Libraries in the Sunday Los Angeles Times, I thought "what a perfect idea"! Just mount a weatherproof box on a post at the end of the driveway, keep it stocked with a variety of books, and hopefully people who come by for books will also leave some that will be good to read. Heaven knows I could probably keep the thing stocked from my own stores for years, but it would be nice to find an interesting read in there from someone else. 

Little Free Libraries was the brainchild of Todd Bol and Rick Brooks of Wisconsin. From Todd's first Little Free Library which he installed at his home in 2009, over 1600 have sprung up around the United States and around the world.  That's not counting any which may not be registered with the site. The friends' original  goal was to see 2,510 Little Free Libraries built, just over the number funded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Now they expect to see 3,000 registered with their site by the end of this month. Little Free Libraries encourage patrons to "take a book, leave a book, leave a note", and frequently become a meeting place for friends and neighbors who otherwise wouldn't see each other very much.

I can just picture myself slapping on the skis this winter, and heading out to see if anyone's left a new book, and to set out a couple of old friends, to go keep company with someone else. Of course it will take a little time to pull this project together. I probably have most of the materials I need for the box, and I've downloaded tips and directions from the website. It is that elusive factor - time - that I need to corral in order to get it done. In the meantime, I will nurture my vision of my own Little Free Library right at the end of my drive - and maybe a portable one to have in front our campsites when we go traveling... 

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