Some people predict that books printed on paper will soon be extinct, but I believe books have more staying power than people realize. Little Free Libraries is a perfect example of how a new twist can make an old invention new again.
When it comes to good ideas that promote community, all roads eventually lead to Lake Highlands, so it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that we have two Little Free Libraries here. What might surprise you is how close they are to each other. Both are located in the Moss Farm area, bounded by Forest and Royal, between Greenville and Abrams.
According to the national website, littlefreelibrary.org, the idea was born in 2009 when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wis., built a model of a one room schoolhouse, as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. The structure is bigger than a mailbox — about the size of a dollhouse. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard with a sign that read “FREE BOOKS”. His neighbors loved it. Soon afterward, at a seminar promoting green practices, Bol met Rick Brooks, who was interested in social enterprises.
The two teamed up to launch the Little Free Library idea, hoping to increase community interaction and to promote literacy at the same time. Anybody can borrow a book on the honor system, day or night, and either return it or replace it with another title. By August of 2012 they had reached their original goal of establishing more than 2,500 Little Free Libraries. Currently, there are more than 10,000 worldwide.
One of our Lake Highlands mini library stewards, Carolyn Hicks, told me how she learned about the idea. “I get a daily e-mail from ‘Daily Good’ that led me to the article about Little Free Libraries, and their website,” Hicks says.
Hicks says, “My husband, Jack, and I thought it would be a great way to encourage others to read, and what better people to encourage but our own neighborhood?”
She especially likes that the idea benefits all ages.
“There are three levels of shelves,” Hicks says, “for small children, older children, and adults.”
She says all three shelves get used, with plenty of turnover.
“When we first opened the little library, we had to replenish the children’s section, but as time has gone by, we no longer have to do this,” Hicks says. “We do add a few new ones at times, but the quantity does not go down much.”
Hicks says she had hoped to be the first in Dallas but was surprised to learn of the existence of another Little Free Library just a few blocks away. Hicks lives on Seagrove, and the other steward, who hasn’t contacted me, is north of Whitehurst. Exact locations are listed on the map section of the website. According to the website there are 10 Little Free Libraries registered in Dallas, plus another in Garland, and one in Richardson. Some are located on private residential property but others are located near schools and businesses.
I set out to visit our neighborhood locations and was delighted to find an assortment of kids’ books plus adult thrillers, how-tos and even a couple cook books. I ended up borrowing a fun novel (which will be returned by the time you read this.) The libraries can also be a destination for neighborhood walks and bike rides. In fact, the couple who stewards the location in Cedar Springs wrote that they spent their second date visiting an assortment of Little Free Libraries. (Does this sound romantic? Update those e-dating profiles!)
One glaring disadvantage of electronic books is that you can’t pass them on to friends when you finish. Little Free Libraries gives us a way to recycle books and interact in the real world, and that counts as excellent news, in my book.