Saturday, May 26, 2012

Little Free Library

When I was a very little girl in New Jersey in the 1960s, my mother introduced me to our local public library. 

Built in 1897, the old school house was no longer needed as a school building and had been put to use as the town's Public Library. It was painted barn red and still sported the old bell. Inside it was quiet, peaceful, and, to my young eyes, full to the brim with books. I proudly received my very own library card while in the first grade. I thoroughly enjoyed our bi-weekly visits where I'd pick out another four or five books to take home. A voracious reader, my childhood was heavily influenced by the the wealth of material free for the borrowing. I can honestly say that my love of history was strongly fostered by reading every historical book for young readers that I could get my hands on. By the time I hit the 6th grade, I was well acquainted with the Kings and Queens of England, the Puritans, the Pilgrims, the Revolutionary War soldiers.  All because I could find those books in my public library (see the picture just below).

Recognized for its historic value, this 1897 school house (above) is now part of the Board of Education complex in Wall Township, NJ. Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, the school house served as the township's Public Library.

In February of this year, I read a USA today article about the Little Free Library movement. Little Free Libraries exist all over the world, and are in 40 of the 50 United States. Upon finishing the article, my mind immediately began hatching plans; plans that would have to involve my husband's mad construction skills, since I can barely swing a hammer. 

Two old kitchen cabinets were placed back to back, then roofed and faced. The doors were given plexiglass inserts and painted white. In homage to the public library of my childhood, we painted our Little Free Library red.

Little Free Library #0816 of Chubbuck, Idaho, sits in front of our pasture. (The horses won't mind.)

Here are Hubby and Number 7 putting on the finishing touches after placing the library on its pedestal.

The Little Free Libraries are as much about community as they are about literacy. Our LFL contains books both for children and adults. Earlier this afternoon, we had our first customer -- a car pulled up to the sidewalk and a child got out in the pouring rain. I hope she found something she liked and will come back again. Better yet -- I hope she brings her friends next time.

- Catherine


Joyce said...

Fantastic! I love this!

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

This is totally awesome!! I'm so glad you're doing it. I do remember the original article and thought it was one of the most positive, thoughtful movements i'd ever heard of.