Anyone who knows me, knows I love libraries. While I love the smell of libraries and the hushed atmosphere, I mainly love all of the books. And I love that I can check them all out for free.
As a child, I spent a lot of time at the library. It was so hard to pick which books would go home with me until my return. I wanted to take them all home, but sadly my mom only let me check out 10 books at a time. Should I take home some old favorites or some new yet to be discovered stories? As an adult I still love my library. As much as I read, my wallet and my home bookshelves are thankful that libraries exist.
I recently found out that public free libraries are an American institution, with the first ones starting on the east coast in the 1830s. Between the 1880s and 1929, almost 1,700 free public libraries were built in the United States thanks to the industrialist, Andrew Carnegie. He agreed to build and furnish a library if the city would agree to maintain and staff it. It really is amazing when you consider that people had the foresight to understand that information and reading was so important that it should be available for free to everyone.
I am super fortunate that my town wholeheartedly supports our library. Because I grew up in this community, I have seen the library grow from a much smaller building with a physical card catalog and an iguana named Peepers, to a much larger facility that offers not only books but computer classes, conference room space, programming and activities. When I review our property tax bill, I always feel like we more than get our money’s worth by using our library.
Recently, there has been a phenomenon called the Little Free Library that has been springing up since 2009. Rather than a large public library, individuals or community groups build their own little library where they invite others to add or take a book. The Little Free Library was started in Wisconsin to promote literacy and love of reading. If you go to their website you can see if there is a Little Free Library in your town or someplace you visit.
Our neighborhood completed a gofundme campaign last year and built a Little Free Library. The Little Free Library was recently installed in our neighborhood “island” which is a little public landscaped area with a bench. Because we walk the dog by there frequently, I love to peek in the Little Free Library to see its stock. We must have a lot of readers in the neighborhood because it is almost always fully stocked. We have kids books, YA books and adult fiction. The stock changes so someone must be taking the books home to read. A few weekends ago we saw a family on a bike ride, that had stopped to take a break and read a book on the bench next to it. It’s fun to see how people are enjoying the library. I think I may have to walk down there soon and make a point of picking a book to take home to read.
While reading is a solitary activity, it’s also a community activity. That is why we have book clubs and activities surrounding books. There is something powerful about sharing the written word with others and sharing the experience of story. I take great joy in reading about books, following bookstagrams on Instagram, belonging to online reading communities and also in life book clubs. And one of my favorite things to do is to share and recommend books I have read.
Summer is the perfect reading season. Check out your local library or a Little Free Library and have some fun for free. –June
A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.
–Henry Ward Beecher