Everything to Know About Little Libraries!
Playing the Long Game with Little Free Libraries
How to Create Your Own Little Library, Literacy Stats in the United States, and More!
Did you know that September is “Get Your Library Card” Month?
Some of you may remember the days of heading off to the library after school in preparation for a big school project or a report. There, you searched through the vast resources of the looming bookshelves only armed with the clue of a nearly illegible number from the Dewey decimal system, hot out of the card catalog. Perhaps you went there for unimpeded access to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Others can remember the library coming to you, in the form of a quaint bookmobile that traveled throughout neighborhoods providing access to a small collection of books for people who may not have access to the main branch.
Love to read and want more convenient access to your local library? See all the homes available for sale in the area!
These days, there is unlimited access to information, from all across the world, and it is accessible simply by phone or computer. Simply put, there is Google.
Since books and magazines are available digitally or online, and the presence of the printed word is becoming more and more scarce. Bookstores are becoming fewer and farther between, and the selection of books on the shelves is smaller as well. Most printed booksellers are mostly distributing online versus the brick-and-mortar storefront. Reading and accessing books online is commonplace and many prefer to read the digital version for accessibility purposes. Even your Amazon Prime subscription has access to a special free book feature.
However, to hopefully a number of you, there is nothing like a physical book. Having the story, chapter, and verse in your hand at your unlimited disposal. Creating a tactile connection between the reader and the page, and the comfort that only having a book in your hands can bring. Thumbing through the volume, hearing the whisper of each page turn, smoothing each one down to continue soaking in all the words. For readers, this is one of the great joys in life! It is also something that no glow from a monitor or phone can bring.
In this trend toward a paperless society, will there be an end to handheld, well-loved, well-worn books?
Do We Still Need Libraries? Isn't That "Old School"?
Yes, there are still libraries, and in fact, in our area, libraries are still being built or renovated. Older libraries are being transformed to include coffee shops and classroom areas, to give libraries even more purpose than just access to books and periodicals. They have designated spaces to hold classes, meetings, and much more. Often, you will see several people getting out of a typical office setting and working from the library. They also have adapted to having a large online presence, holding classes both in person and virtually. To keep up to date on all the current library construction plans please view them here.
Libraries, and the resources they bring to a community, will hopefully always be a priority. The shocking literacy statistics in the United States are as follows. Over 43 million adults in the United States have low literacy skills, with 54% of adults reading below a 6th-grade level, and 21% of those adults being illiterate. There are over 43 million adults in the United States who cannot read or write above a 3rd-grade reading level. Children of adults with low literacy skills are 72% more likely to have a low reading level. Due to such an alarming literacy rate, the United States government loses an estimated $2.2 trillion dollars annually because of low adult literacy rates.
There are many benefits of your local library and having your very own library card. In addition to access to the books in the physical library, there is a branch-to-branch loan service, where you can request a book be transferred or held if your current branch is out of stock. There is also a vast e-library of ebooks, streaming music, and audiobooks. You can also visit and check out books at any branch in your library's network. For library card holders, there is also free tutoring and homework assistance available as well. For even more information on how great our local library is, be sure to visit their site here.
A Closer and Smaller Resource - The Little Free Library
Another wonderful way to have access to books is through a Little Free Library. If you haven’t seen one, chances are, there is one close by to you, or you have driven by one and didn’t even know it. Little Free Libraries are just that. They are little, and they are free. They can come in all designs and shapes, and house a variety of books available to anyone, for free.
They are the small house-like structures that house a collection of books inside that invite the passerby to “Take a book, leave a book”. You can use it as a lending library, where you exchange books by replacing the ones you have read for newer ones, or you can simply take a book to enjoy. Many stewards of reading also replenish the book supply, as does the caretaker of the particular library.
Todd H. Bol started the very first free little library in 2009, and then set the wheels in motion for the creation of the non-profit organization The “Little Free Library” based in St. Paul Minnesota. Their vision statement reads, “Our vision is a Little Free Library in every community and a book for every reader. We believe all people are empowered when the opportunity to discover a personally relevant book to read is not limited by time, space, or privilege.”
They do this by removing barriers to access to books, through fostering new Little Free Libraries, educating and guiding Little Library stewards, working with communities and partners like schools, libraries, and businesses to bring more Little Free Libraries into the communities, and much more. Their objective is to have people “take a book or leave a book”. In communities worldwide, there are more than 100,000 Little Free Libraries so far on all 7 continents. To find one you can use their app or webmap to locate those near you.
Many people even make it a hunting game of sorts, by visiting a number of Little Free Libraries in their neighboring communities, and others while they travel. It is a wonderful way to pass on books you have already read to those who also appreciate the written word.
Find out how you can have your own “Little Free Library” in your community here.
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Reaching Neighborhoods, One Little Library at a Time
The Little Libraries do many things for the neighborhoods and areas that they are in:
- Gives access to free books.
- Builds community
- Promotes sharing
- Gives an opportunity to meet neighbors
- Creates a friendlier neighborhood environment
- Spreads the joy of reading
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies ... The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin
The love of books is something to be nurtured and having Little Free Libraries in our neighborhoods, in addition to the community-owned public libraries will help decrease the amount of illiteracy in our communities, strengthen the desire to learn, and give those who don’t have access to reading, an opportunity.
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