Take A Book Leave A Book
If you’ve lived in Belmont Shore very long, you may have run across Riley’s Red Wagon Book Swap, which local resident Justin Rudd runs. It’s a great neighborhood fixture, allowing residents to swap books. Every day, except when Justin’s on vacation or the weather is bad, visitors stop by Corona and Toledo to choose books or leave books.
Yet the red wagon is just one of the local spots where Long Beach residents can swap books at “little libraries.” Earlier this year, the city held a class for residents who wanted to start up their own free little libraries in their neighborhoods. It’s an idea that’s been taking off like wildfire, not just in Long Beach but around the world.
Free Little Library is a true modern day barter system. The reciprocal exchange is immediate and simple: take a book and leave a book. The best part is there are no due dates. Yes, public libraries offer books immediately. And they are open and available to every person. However libraries are not free. They are funded and operated by local, state, and even federal money. Ultimately if you pay taxes, then you are paying for your neighborhood library.
Free Little Library is a worldwide grassroots movement to promote literacy. It was started in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin. Bol built a small school house in honor of his mother who was a school teacher. He filled the small school house with books, and put it in his yard with a sign that read, “Free Books.” He had such great response from his friends and neighbors that he continued to build houses and gave them away. The original houses were made from recycled materials, and each one was unique. Some of the structures are really adorable.
Rick Brooks of the University of Wisconsin saw the Free Little Library as the perfect do it yourself-project. Brooks’ background as a youth and community educator, and experience in social marketing helped expand the Free Little Library world-wide. As of January 2015 there were 25,000 libraries. If you go to the Free Little Library website, there is a map of sites around the world.
The goal of this extraordinary movement is to promote literacy and love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide. Also, to build a community as people share skills, creativity, and wisdom across generations. Bol and Brooks were inspired by such great literacy philanthropists as Andrew Carnegie. He supported more than 2500 public libraries around the turn of the century. They were also influenced by the heroic achievements of Lutie Stearns. She was a librarian who brought books to 1400 locations in Wisconsin from 1895 to 1914.
Today people can become stewards of this movement and maintain libraries in their own neighborhoods. Visit the website and you’ll see pictures of people around the world with ridiculously cute little libraries. There are even community partnerships to help facilitate Free Little Libraries. One man’s dream to build a literacy – friendly neighborhood has become a global sensation with one book at a time.