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Holladay Journal

Little Free Libraries are sprouting up

Oct 24, 2019 01:54PM ● By Stephanie DeGraw

Bench with Little Free Library in the Alvera Circle neighborhood donated by the Searle family. (Stephanie DeGraw/City Journals)

By Stephanie DeGraw | [email protected] 

Books are not going the way of the dinosaur thanks to another Little Free Library. The Searle family donated one for their Alvera Circle neighborhood in Holladay. A celebration featuring free books, crafts, family-friendly activities and refreshments was held Sept. 27.

“Our Little Free Library doesn’t just belong to us. It belongs to the whole community,” Marion Searle said. “It’s our hope this Little Free Library will bring a little happiness, a little more connection and a destination spot for youth, mothers and fathers and grandparents to come and sit a moment and read a book. Our Little Free Library and book bench will bring a smile and a quiet spot to sit and relax for a moment.”

Known as the world’s largest book-sharing movement, Little Libraries is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Searle said these libraries complement our public library system by providing another place to find a fun book to read. To see a list of locations, visit www.LittleFreeLibrary.org.

A son who wanted to honor his mother, who was a teacher, created the international group. In 2009, Todd H. Bol placed a Little Free Library in his front yard in Hudson, Wisconsin. “I believe in a Little Free Library on every block and a book in every hand. I believe people can fix their neighborhoods, fix their communities, develop systems of sharing, learn from each other, and see that they have a better place on this planet to live,” Bol said.

The late founder believed in the power of individuals to change the world through acts of kindness. Volunteer stewards repair their own and other Little Libraries in their areas. They create networks of book-sharing boxes and work to strengthen the sense of community. “Little Free Library stewards are the backbone of the Little Free Library network and the movement would never have grown so quickly without the support and dedication of volunteer stewards worldwide,” Bol said.

There are over 90,000 Little Free Libraries in all 50 states in America and in 91 countries, from Argentina to Zambia. Thousands of neighbors have connected for the first time, and they have shared over 120 million books. The Little Free Library nonprofit organization focuses on inspiring a love of reading, building community and sparking creativity. Throughout 2019, more libraries were built, and awards and giveaways were established to honor the volunteers who watch over the program. There is also an Impact Library Program to assist 10 underserved communities around the United States to get their Little Free Libraries. 

These libraries can make a huge impact on the world, according to the U.S. Department of Education. “Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th-grade level.”

The Little Library’s motto is “Take a book; share a book. Always a gift; never for sale.” The coordinators of the library said they were searching for children’s books. All publications are welcome, including cookbooks and good magazines, Searle said.

“Rules for my library? Please take your boxes of books to charity and not my door. This is a little library box and so only put in your best offering — a book you really enjoyed and want to share with others,” she said. The family set up the Little Free Library at their own expense. “I just wanted to do something creative and fun for the community. It just felt like the right thing to do. Besides, I have been purging my home of books! I have so many and a Little Library seemed like a good thing to start. I had plenty of books to stock it!” Searle said.

Searle loved books from a young age and hopes to pass that enthusiasm for books on to today’s youth. “I remember the very first time I ever walked from my home to the old Millcreek Library and took my first book off of the shelf to read. It was ‘The Princess and the Goblins’ by George MacDonald. I LOVED that fairytale/fantasy book, not realizing at the time that George MacDonald influenced C.S. Lewis as well as J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s where some of Tolkien’s ideas for goblins came from for his books,” she said.

Anyone interested in having a Little Library in their neighborhood can purchase kits on the website. There are many choices in all colors and styles. The group also furnishes an official plaque.

The Library of Congress, the National Book Foundation and the American Library Association honored the Little Free Library nonprofit organization. Reader’s Digest named them one of the “50 Surprising Things We Love about America.” To learn about donating to or setting up a Little Free Libraries, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org.

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