Libraries of the Little, Free, and New Orleans Variety
Now I don’t usually do this, but seeing as how it’s Christmas . . .
What’s that? It’s not Christmas? It’s almost half a year away from Christmas? Well, shoot. Guess we’ll have to hope that folks are in a giving mood above and beyond the winter holiday season.
So the other day I got an email from a Junior in high school. Turns out, she’s in New Orleans and is a big time reader. She told me, “In the past three and a half years, I have read 119 full-length novels in addition to shorts stories, children’s books, and poetry. I have been very fortunate to have a mother who is a teacher who encouraged me to read and to always have access to books through my school, nearby libraries, and bookstores.” Yet she knows all too well how, even in this day and age, ready access to books isn’t exactly universal.
Her solution? To build a Little Free Library. Now unless you’ve been couched under a moist and very comfortable rock, you probably have heard about Little Free Libraries. The general idea is that you put them in your yard, or somewhere else that’s accessible to the public, and fill it with books. Ideally, people take them and replace them with others. In reality, they usually just take, or occasionally fill them with titles on stuff like how to repair your ham radio, circa 1976. But if you’ve a continual supply of books to provide, they can be great for a community. I’ve heard the backing and forthing over their virtues, or lack thereof. Some folks hate them, but there’s no denying that they are great ways of getting books into the community. I’ve got one down the street from me and I’m always filling it with titles. And my library makes a point to regularly visit the Little Free Libraries in my town to make sure they’re always stocked.
But getting back to that gal from New Orleans. She mentioned that there are several Little Free Libraries in her neighborhood and her family is always filling them. “However, when I was looking at the map of Little Free Libraries, I noticed a complete dearth of them in the Mississippi Delta. My library will be located at the main playground in Leland, where many children and teenagers will be able to access it. While collecting books to put in my Little Free Library, I am trying to represent diverse age groups and authors to capture the attention of more readers. I am conducting book drives in New Orleans and will be taking books to Leland each time we visit. My aunt, who lives there, will refill the library whenever it begins to be depleted.”
Then she asked if I could send a copy of my own book to include. Sounded like a good plan to me. Kid has a smart head on her shoulders. But why stop there? If she needs books then I’m sure you folks might have one or two to share.
So here’s the deal. I don’t like the idea of handing out the personal home address of a minor on this site. BUT if you are interested in sending her some books, email me at email@example.com. I’ll get you in contact with her and she’ll get a mess of beautiful books for her library.
To paraphrase Krusty the Clown (and how many times do I get to say that in a given day?) “Give a hoot. Send a book.”
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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