At first I thought it was a nice address sign. But then I walked closer and saw that inside this sturdy little birdhouse was an actual lending library. I carefully opened the glass door. I felt like I was accessing a secret trove of books. Inside I found quality reads by Barbara Kingsolver, Candace Bushnell and others. There were kid books, and non-fiction. In fact, I didn’t see any discarded books. These were all books that had been loved well at one point. I can’t wait to see how the collection changes over time, and see what books I should donate.
While Little Free Libraries have been popping up all over the country, this is the first one I’ve seen in my neighborhood. On the Little Free Library web site, http://www.littlefreelibrary.org, I found out that you can either make your own, or purchase one. To be on the Google Map of Libraries, and be considered an “official” Little Free Library, you need to buy a charter sign, and a Steward’s Kit (runs $34.95). The libraries can be dedicated to a loved one and named a memorial library. A cute box like the one in the photo, can run about $250. but I also saw a sweet library tucked into an outdoor bookcase, that was operating in the dry summer months. In the Northwest, a secure box seems like a good idea for the rest of the year.
For writers, these libraries offer an interesting opportunity. The LFL website recommends putting a signed copy in the boxes, but if you want to reach more readers, you can contact the LFL about donating a larger amount. If you are a registered Steward, of the library, the LFL also has some purchasing opportunities available. One publishing company has already jumped on the bookwagon, by offering $100. of books for a 14.95 fee. The website also says that more publishing companies are becoming interested in this model.
Each Little Free Library has a notebook inside of it for people to leave notes to each other and to the Steward of the library. You can leave notes in the books that you donate. I can already imagine a romantic comedy set around the notes left in the boxes.
Frankly, I’m a little jealous that my neighbor beat me to the punch. Not that I couldn’t have one at my house too, but as a book lover, the chance to be able manage and curate a little library sounds like a mini-dream. The size is small enough that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming and the community input could be a lot of fun. Going to used bookstores could take on a new glow, since as a Steward, you would just have to scour the shelves for great reads. Think of the good feeling too, watching someone select a book from your library and then walking down the street with a great new story to read.