I am so excited about our Little Free Library. I am the librarian at my church and one of the library’s recent projects was installing a Little Free Library on our grounds. Our library will be one of nearly fifty found all over Winnipeg and one of 50,000 that have sprung up in more than 70 countries. Estimates are that some 200,000 books a day and more than 60 million books a year are exchanged through Little Free Libraries.
The mission of Little Free Libraries is to promote literacy and a love of reading and to build a sense of community. The movement began with two Wisconsin book aficionados Todd Bol and Rick Brooks. In 2010 they got the idea of building small simple libraries from recycled material and inviting people to donate books to stock their shelves. When people left a book they were encouraged to help themselves to others that had been donated.
Never in their wildest dreams did the two men imagine the movement would take off as it has. They now have a website where people who build Little Free Libraries can register their library and have it placed on the site’s world map. Little Free Libraries have been built on the grounds of hospitals, churches, police stations, fire halls, schools, businesses and private homes.
The library at our church features two reading benches and a cupboard that looks a little like a grain elevator. But each Little Free Library is different and if you go on the website you can see all the creative ways different people have constructed theirs.
Having a Little Free Library at our church was my idea but I had no clue how I would go about building it. Luckily a call for help placed in the church bulletin recruited a young architect who had just started his first job with a design firm in Winnipeg and an experienced retiree who loved to build and had a well equipped carpenter’s workshop. The two collaborated and used some lovely burr oak provided by the widow of a man who had loved wood but died before he was able to use the oak to build something. Another man from our congregation who is a graphic designer agreed to do all the lettering on our library. Our library was open for business at one point but then due to some fierce winter weather we had to close it for a little fine tuning. Now however it is up and running once again.
Since hundreds of people use our church each week visiting our food bank, taking part in our young parents’ group, attending the children’s clubs we operate, taking the English classes we offer, dropping off their youngsters at our daycare or visiting relatives in our senior’s residence we hope there will be lots of patrons for our Little Free Library.