Little Free Libraries Promote Love of Reading
Jul 29, 2019 10:43AM
By Kathleen Ganster
Photo courtesy Northland Public Library
Susan Claus enjoyed watching her father read late at night when she was a child.
“His years as a surgeon meant 16-hour days, with little time for reading anything but medical journals. My coziest memories as a young child were of waking up late at night to see my father sitting in an armchair in my room reading journals,” she said.
When her beloved father passed away a couple of years ago, one of the donations of his choice was to leave money to a local library. It made sense for Claus, the Children & Teen Services manager at Northland Public Library, to donate a Little Free Library (LFL) in his honor. That library was installed at the North Dakota Pavilion in North Park through Northland.
Little Free Libraries is an international nonprofit organization that promotes installing miniature libraries in towns and neighborhoods for others to take books to read and pass on. Now celebrating its 10th year, their motto is “Take a Book, Share a Book” and according to their website, there are more than 80,000 registered libraries in 91 countries involved. Through the organization, people can find suggestions on how to build, stock and officially register Little Free Libraries or even purchase a kit or finished library.
Northland Public Library works with community members like Claus to establish Little Free Libraries. “We assist with determining a location and registering the library on the Little Free Library website. As long as it's located in one of our five supporting municipalities, we will also check it periodically and supply it with books and do minor maintenance when necessary,” said Kelley Moten, director of library services. “The Little Free Library's sponsor is responsible for covering all expenses associated with purchase, installation, registration, and major repairs.”
Northland assisted with three libraries located in North Park, including the one mentioned above, and Moten stocks them about every two weeks with donated books.
“A few times, I've been lucky enough to witness the delight on a child's face upon learning that they can take a few books home with them to keep,” she said.
Many LFLs are placed by individuals and families. Amy Pike and her family call their LFL “It’s Time to Read.” Amy’s husband, Jason, built their LFL when they lived in Kansas and when they relocated to Hampton last year, it came with them.
“I love reading and encouraging people of all ages to read. The library is my favorite place to be. My parents instilled a love of reading when I was little, and I do the same thing now with my sons,” said Pike. “When I learned about the organization, I knew I wanted to have an LFL.”
The Pikes recently updated their LFL, which is located at their Hampton Township home, to look more like their new house. Maintaining it is a family project; sons Matthew, 10, and Declan, 7, like to get into the act. “They enjoy checking it to see if anything new has come in and they find books they want to keep to read,” she said.
Pike organizes the books by age categories and often stocks it not only with books, but with pencils, bookmarks and other fun items for visitors. And those visitors help them stock the LFL.
“We have received donations here from several people in the community, including our bus driver, Dave. I check the LFL every few days to see if anything new has come in or if the shelves need to be straightened up,” said Pike. As a volunteer with the Hampton library, she also shops their book sales. The Pikes also donated an LFL to Poff Elementary to help carry their love of books even further.
LFL are important to the community for two reasons, according to Moten.
“They serve as a reminder of the importance and joy of reading, and they help put books into the hands of children,” she explained. “All children should have some books of their own.”
For more information about Little Free Libraries including instructions, locations and the chance to sign up for the newsletter, visit https://www.littlefreelibrary.org.