By Heaven Hunter
Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that takes pride in the ideology and love of reading, and expressing that reading places an emphasis on: “Building community, sparking crea-tivity, and inspiring readers by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.”
Through the Little Free Library program, 50 states, and 80 countries, millions of books are shared each year, greatly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and educations.
This is not a new idea, public bookcases origi-nated in the early 1990s as cabinets that may be easily and namelessly used for the exchange and storage of books without the formalities associated with libraries. Little Free Libraries try to personalize the experience.
The library boxes are simple structures, typi-cally resembling a wooden container and shaped to look like a one-room school or an A-frame house. They are affixed on a post, and then filled with books.
Little Free Library non-profit has been honored by National Book Foundation, Library of Congress, Library Journal, and a variety of assemblies for its work promoting literacy and a love of reading, which is critical for those of every demographic.
I am a newcomer to Calhoun County, but have been working diligently to introduce myself to the wonderful areas within it. One thing that I have noticed everywhere I go is a strong sense of com-munity.
While wandering around Grantsville, I stumbled upon a Little Free Library box. Its vibrant red paint caught my eye. This was such an interesting and beautiful piece, I was sure that there had to be more.
I decided to do some footwork, and discovered that there were many “structured book boxes” located up and down Rt. 16 South and along Rt. 5 North; however, most were unnamed, unidentifiable, and untraceable.
Unlike the Little Free Library box located in Grantsville, these were unpainted and stood with-out any recognition to claim their glory.
I wanted to explore the county’s options, and what can be done to give these boxes life–and put them on the map.
Little Free Library has a few options. Conven-tionally, the Little Free Library boxes work much like other public bookcases. Anyone pass-ing by can take a book to read or leave one for someone else to find.
The organization relies on volunteers (stewards) to maintain book exchange boxes. In Calhoun County, for a book exchange box to be registered and legally use the Little Free Library brand name, volunteers must purchase a Library box kit or a charter sign.
This sign reads “Little Free Library” and dis-plays an official charter number.
There is a big plus for the county by registering. Registered libraries are eligible to be featured on the Little Free Library World Map, which lists locations with GPS co-ordinates and other infor-mation about the area.
Calhoun County can benefit from this type of positive publicity.
Many active readers make it a point to travel and search for new library boxes, exploring different book genres as an adventure.
Calhoun is a beautiful place, and has people with exciting history and knowledge to share. I was drawn in by its people and the landscape. I would like to offer that to readers around the county.
Calhoun has literacy to share. Upon doing so, a visitor may need some fuel for the trip home and a bite to eat. They could stop by any of our establishments and enjoy the people of Calhoun on a whole new level. Like the power of reading, these stories will carry home.
Free Little Library has partnerships with many organizations cur-rently present within the community, such as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Lions International, but any individual or organi-zation is welcome.
You can create, paint, and stock your box anyway you would like.
Let’s share this won-derful, and often over-looked community with the nation.
If you or your group would like to sponsor a library box, visit little freelibrary.org/registra tion-process/.
Charter signs cost around $40. Your charter sign will be engraved with a unique charter number. Your charter number is what identifies your library as an official member of the Little Free Library Sharing Network, and places you on the world map.
Your charter number also grants you, as the library steward, an access to a network of bene-fits just for registered stewards.