Relating

Pop-up Libraries: Coming Soon Near You!

Editor’s Note:

Carole Moyer is a third grade teacher at Owatin Creek Elementary School, located in Reading, PA. An avid reader and thinker, Carole jumps for joy when she discovers new ideas to promote literacy. Little Free Libraries did just that—for Carole, her students, and her school community.

Imagine donations of gently used books, organized in “pop-up” libraries in convenient neighborhood locations. “Take a book, donate a book,” is the operating principle.

So began the Free Little Library in Carole’s school—and her fascination with LFLs across the country.

“Thoughts of the volume of used books exchanged in places all over the world began to really impress me,” Carole wrote.

There was an unexpected bonus: The project allowed children to lead the adults into a community of readers. Cross-generational connections emerged. Students became what Carole terms “unexpected leaders.”

Read Carole’s story (below) to get inspired. Who knows? There may just be a Little Free Library in your neck of the woods. Kids and adults alike could benefit.

Little Free Libraries, like this whimsical beachside cupboard, encourage reading through proximity to books. (Photo courtesy of https://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/little-free-libraries-uniting-communities-one-book-at-a-time)

Searching for news articles to use with my after-school tutoring group, I stumbled upon pieces covering Little Free Libraries. These libraries were popping up at beaches, neighborhoods, storefronts, and even in cafes. To be honest, these tiny libraries caught my attention because they were so cute!  I thought it could be a topic third graders might like to read about.

Donations of gently used books stock Little Free Libraries (LFLs) all around the world! (Photo courtesy of https://www.pinterest.com/
pin/99994054206556790/?lp=true)

Take a Book, Share a Book

That proved to be true! My eager students discovered that more than 90 countries host Little Free Libraries (LFLs)—and the number of registered chartered libraries is greater than 80,000!  Extra fun exploded as I allowed my students to search the web for the varied LFL styles and locations.  We were in awe of the LFLs that resembled the owners’ homes and the whimsical LFLs where you could “take a book, share a book.”

That evening I viewed a Facebook post about a magical LFL in Idaho where Sharalee Armitage Howard had inserted a bookcase into a rotted 110-year-old tree trunk.  Thoughts of the volume of used books exchanged in places all over the world began to really impress me.  I decided to check out the Little Free Library organization’s website.

LFLs can be modest or grand–such as these lighted shelves nestled into a 110-year-old tree trunk. (Photo courtesy of Sharalee Armitage Howard)
Imagine how a few extra minutes of reading each day would benefit boys and girls. (Photo courtesy of https://www.coca-colacompany.com/content/dam/journey/
us/en/private/2014/09/little-free-library1-604-604-337-befbe137.rendition.598.336.jpg)

My students found more articles as well as an LFL right down the road from our school in Exeter Township by using the Little Free Library’s interactive map.

The story behind one LFL pulled at our heartstrings. It was created by the grandchildren of a woman who had attended school in this matching red brick community building more than 70 years ago!

Today this building stands at a corner elementary bus stop.  We had begun to understand how LFLs build community and boost people’s access to books for adults and children.

The little red schoolhouse library (shown here and at the start of this post) honors the late Carol Stunz of St. Lawrence, PA. “Team Mimi” established it to spread literacy throughout the community and share Carol’s love of reading. (Photo courtesy of Little Free Library website, link below)
Carole’s students began noticing Little Free Libraries–like this one, at a local hair cuttery for kids in West Reading, PA. Shaped like a pagoda, the library brings to mind Reading’s actual Pagoda. It was built atop Mount Penn in 1908 to be a luxury resort. (Photo courtesy of Joe Bertolet)

An Idea Hatches

Moved by these stories, our tiny tutoring group decided to start our own LFL. We called it the OC Wave’s Little Free Library for 3rd and 4th graders.  It would be all about recycling old books in our homes and exchanging books we loved with each other.

The students created a Google Slide presentation to pitch the idea to all the classes.  Our first donor was a giant one! Kindergarten teacher Katie Macrina donated all of her books from her former third grade class, plus her own children’s old books!

Katie Macrina hauls in a huge book donation for OC Wave’s Little Free Library.

Readers are Leaders

We unveiled our Little Free Library on April 1, 2019—and that’s no joke!  By the end of the year, we had 800 donated used books in circulation. The students became the LFL stewards.  They labeled books, distributed raffle tickets to student donors, organized the books by topic in a mobile cart, and stocked the shelves every day.

Carole and her “unexpected leaders” stock and maintain the OC Wave’s Little Free Library.

We have now filled the wall surrounding the LFL with the donor’s photos—a real community of readers!  We are Charter #85088 and proud to be part of this amazing, nonprofit organization.

Adults Jump on Board

Other teachers became interested too, and our workroom became a small staff branch LFL! 

By the end of the year, the faculty LFL had grown to five times its original size. It is extremely satisfying to see people discussing leisure-reading material they loved and suggesting other titles. Many of us took armloads of books home for summer reading.

Energetic reader Deb Jarsocrak (a third grade teacher) gets excited about the staff’s Little Free Library.

I eventually joined a Facebook group for stewards of LFLs.  I enjoy seeing a love of reading promoted in creative ways across the country and world. 

This tiny group of after-school readers and writers were interested in advancing their third grade skills, but the children also led our entire school and me into a community with greater access to fantastic used books!

Photographer Erin M. Franklin captures her own daughter stocking their Little Free Library. Her daughter enjoys their village’s fifth and newest LFL, a “Where the Wild Things Are” themed library.

Click here to find a LFL near you. Take book or share a book.

Click here to read more about Little Free Libraries—or start your own!

Editor

Abundant Home is designed to highlight God's love for us through family relationships. Our first relationship is with Jesus Christ, who promises, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

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