Monday, September 7, 2015

Little Free Libraries

A few months after we moved to Hermosa a Little Free Library popped up a few blocks from the Sugar Cube. Our neighbours seemed pretty excited about it so we swung by and it was, indeed, a charming thing. A little box full of books for children (others nearby have grown up literature, and non fiction), with an honesty system allowing you to take or donate as you wish. Walking up to the little library to pick up, or donate, a book, soon became a favourite way to spend a spare half hour.
The grown-up little free library up the hill from the Sugar Cube
Lady P having a good read
But then I went off the idea. I thought about the fact I would otherwise have given these books to Goodwill, which would have directly helped people back into work. I might have bought new books at Pages, a local, independently owned (and presumably therefore endangered) bookshop. We would have visited the lovely local library more often too. In fact, we could have donated our books to the library's fundraising bookshop.

I'm prepared to be shot down in flames admitting I thought this way. I'm sure the Little Free Libraries are useful resources in many communities. But in wealthy, literate, middle class Hermosa, I was unconvinced about the scheme's merits.

The Little Free Library caused some rifts in our happy home too. TLOML and I had an ongoing debate about whether 'bring a book, take a book' meant you had to return the book you brought or could, as I preferred, pass off books you didn't like and replace them with better ones. He thought I was breaking the rules but I felt I had right on my side. One child's trash is another's treasure, and I'm sure someone else would find that French vocabulary book illustrated with bears a source of endless delight. I kept a running tally in my mind to ensure we'd taken roughly as many books as we'd left.

It's unusual for TLOML and I not to get along so I was anxious to resolve this one (and of course, prove that I was right) so I went to  the FAQs. I was happy to learn I was correct. I also had my anti-LFL attitude challenged. It turns out these little boxes are cherished in thousands of locations, starting conversations,  creating meeting places, exciting kids about reading and creating an indefineable sense of community just by being there.

I stand corrected. So last week Lady P and I dropped off one of our duplicate Harry and the Dinosaurs and picked up a Curious George. A fair trade by anyone's standards. Yesterday we went to the public library, and this afternoon we'll go to Pages and buy a new book too. Spreading the book love far and wide.

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