Let A Thousand Little Free Libraries Bloom; For Now, We Have Two – July 10, 2012

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Iris Schenke with her Little Free Library. Photos courtesy Gordon Inkeles

Hyland Street

BAYSIDE, JULY 4 – If you ever find yourself out on Hyland Street and craving a literary experience – no problem! Just use the Little Free Library.

It’s loaded up with interesting titles by authors as diverse as William Shakespeare, Elmore Leonard and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

There are dozens of Little Free Libraries across the country. According to littlefreelibrary.org, the mission is to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide, to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity, and wisdom across generations and to build more than 2,510 libraries around the world.

Anderson Avenue 
 McKINLEYVILLE, JULY 10 – This week’s edition of the Arcata Eye included Iris Schenke’s magnificent new free library on the back page. Our family has a little free library, too, and we were so happy to read that someone else has built one. Has this wholesome, benevolent worldwide movement gained momentum here in Humboldt County? I hope so!

Rainer Shea, 11, and Frida Shea, 6, stocking the library in February, 2012, when the family first installed it on their fence facing Anderson Avenue in McKinleyville. Photos courtesy Kris Halstrom


We maintain a family blog and reported about our project in the most recent post: artscienceandants-homeschool.blogspot.com.

Last fall a librarian friend passed on an article in the Utne Reader about the little free library movement. Around the same time, the Occupy Wall Street library, holding thousands of books, was callously bulldozed by the NYPD.

Going through the process of designing, building and stocking a little free library was a way for our family to symbolically oppose bullying and support free speech.

We spent time thinking about what kinds of books we wanted to offer our neighbors. There are always children’s books for the many families on our block.

There are often great works of fiction, many gardening, art and homeschooling books, which are our favorite topics. Searching for quality titles at thrift stores and receiving donations from supportive friends has been a rewarding part of the project.

Already the paint job on our box needs a touch-up. We’re looking forward to sprucing it up with new designs, which is fun and not too daunting like a chore. So far no vandalism other than a stolen latch has befallen our library.

The first roof was too small to keep the books dry through the winter. We learned from that and put on a larger roof with weatherstripping on the door.

We like to imagine a time when many people have their own private free libraries and you could travel a short distance to find the quirky books that only so-and-so would stock.

There is so much possibility with these libraries. People have been using our library and leaving notes and other books in exchange. We’re really excited to keep ours stocked.

I hope we hear of more locally in the future.


Kris Halstrom