Take one, leave one

nellie Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. On Saturday morning, Nederland Community Library Director Neli van Buskirk put the finishing touches on her new library project, The Little Free Library that she and Program Coordinator Geneva Mixon and their husbands were erecting.

Neli says, “Doing this has been on my mind for awhile. I have always wanted a way to provide books for children so they can cherish them as their own. Owning books is different from borrowing them from the library.” Neli says The Little Free Library is a way to offer children books to take home and use. All that is asked is that when someone takes a book from the mini library, they leave a book for others to take.

The Little Free Library idea was born in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009 when Todd Bol built a wooden structure that looked like a school house on a post and put it on his lawn as a tribute to his mother, a teacher and a book lover. He and his partner Rick Brooks spread the word and soon people all over the country embraced the idea, creating their own style library boxes.

As of February, 2013, 50 states and 40 countries have become involved in the program, a literary venture. In January of 2014, over 15,000 Little Libraries are in existence with 1,650,000 books having been donated and borrowed.

The mini libraries may be registered for a fee and assigned a number at the organization’s website. These libraries may be found through GPS coordinates, giving residents and travelers the locations of the take one / leave one sites.
guy fixing box

Little Free Libraries have been donated to areas that have no library facilities of their own, or to places that have been ravaged by disaster. Most of the time the library is constructed with materials from the community and landscape around it.

Neli says that 50 percent of the NCL’s patrons are children and the teeny libraries will offer the children a chance to pick out a book to keep. “I want to thank the Library Foundation for donating the books to put in the library and the anonymous person who built the little library.”

Susan Gerhart’s cousin made and donated the tiles that decorate the library. Neli painted the structure a bright yellow, complementing the colors in the tiles.

The Little Free  Library was set up so its door  is at a child’s height, with the bottom shelf bigger for the larger children’s books.

“This is an organic project,” says Neli. “And we’ll develop it from here.”

The Little Free Library is located east of the NCL, available to anyone who wants a book or to anyone who would like to donate a book. It is one of those win-win projects that build communities and literacy for all.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.