It’s The Little Things (Even Libraries)

I’ll start at the beginning.

A few years back I spotted a small, neighborhood library in the nearby community of Campbell. I was smitten! I went back to drop off books, then returned again with my husband. After seeing the library and doing some research, I knew I wanted one too.

little free library campbell, california

Little Free Library, Campbell, California Steward: Carmencita Valerio

In keeping with the tenets of the Little Free Library movement, we started looking for recycled materials. We spotted something that would work at a garage sale, but we mulled it over for too long and it was gone.

Enter my friend Nick, who’s a master carpenter extraordinaire. Nick built our Little Free Library (LFL) from reclaimed redwood fencing and deck material. Perfection.

little free library history collage

Little Free Library Construction and Design: Nick Timmermann Steward: Alys Milner

The books flow in, the books flow out, and an entire community of readers stop by daily to give or take a book. The motto is “Take a book, return a book” with the understanding that you can do either. I’m considered the library steward, but the library belongs to the community.

About six months later my friend Mary Elizabeth asked, perhaps tongue in cheek, “When are you going to build a Little Free Library for your fairy garden?”

miniature little free library

Miniature Little Free Library in the Fairy Garden

How could I resist that challenge? So I did, and of course I blogged about it here.

Fast forward to last November. I received one of those WordPress notifications saying that my (Little)Little Free Library post had a spike in views. Someone shared my post on the official Little Free Library Facebook Page and that’s how I met Carrie Marie.

Carrie is a library steward in Winston-Salem, Massachusetts.  When she saw the Facebook post, she asked if “the artist”…referring to me (blush) would make one. Delighted, I offered to make one as a gift after I recovered from surgery.

Here’s what she said:

Hi Alys,
I would be happy to pay for supplies needed to make us a tiny LFL! My husband and I are in the process of adopting through foster care here in NC and we have Little Free Library #11934. We’d like to teach the child about the concept of the LFL and are incorporating it into other things. I’m very appreciative of your offer! The one you made is darling!!!!!

What a gracious soul! So over the last few weeks, I’ve been plotting and planning and constructing a miniature replica of Carrie Marie’s Little Free Library.

Here is a sneak peek:

Miniature Blue Little Free Library

Miniature Blue Little Free Library

I’m writing a second post with details of how I made it, along with the stories that go with each tiny book.

It’s been a blast!

Stay tuned.

Setting the Date: Little Free Library Dedication

Today I set the date for our Little Free Library dedication. The library, or LFL, went up in January. I shared the news by Facebook and email but didn’t do anything ‘official’. In February, the LFL listed on the global map, another fun milestone. March was our ‘rainy’ month and then we had the sprucing up of the curb garden.  So, here it is mid-April, with our dedication ceremony set for May 17th. I’m excited.

LFL evite

If you’re new to the idea of a Little Free Library, here’s the scoop:

It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share.

The Mission of the non-profit Little Free Library movement is to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide, and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.

I’ve dedicated the LFL to Debbie Hughes Judge and Carolyn Sullivan, life-long readers and teachers. They offered support and guidance as we piloted a Books-at-Home program at our grade school, a program created to serve disadvantaged readers. They will be guests of honor at our ceremony.

We’ll serve light refreshments and give out free bookmarks to all the attendees.

What’s New in the Library:

I found tiny Beatrix Potter books at our local Target in the dollar bins. When I tried paying for them, they said the books weren’t available for sale yet, and they returned them to the stock room. Have you every heard of such a thing? I was just sure I would miss out, but through a fortunate stroke of serendipity, I found them again a month later and quickly snapped them up.

I loved these little books as a child. The originals came out between 1902 and 1922. Beatrix Potter was a woman ahead of her time, an early environmentalist responsible for preserving the beautiful Lake District in Northern England.

little free library beatrix potter

Beatrix Potter

Also new in the library, and all the way from Canada, a copy of P.D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother? Thank you, Boomdee! This book was also a favorite growing up, published in 1960, though I’m pretty sure she picked it out for the aqua cover. 🙂

Are you my mother?

A gift to the Little Free Library

She inscribed the book with the following:

The more you read,
the more you will know
The more you learn
The more places you’ll grow.
-Dr. Seuss
For Alys and her LFL

from Boomdee

Through another stroke of serendipity, my mother gave me a copy of the Dr. Seuss book she quotes from when I graduated from college.  If you’ve never read Oh, the Places You’ll Go head to your nearest library, STAT.

little free library inscription

Beautiful inscription

Please join us Saturday, May 17th at 3:00 pm for a brief dedication ceremony in front of the El Codo Way Little Free Library
Honored Guests:
Debra Hughes Judge and Carolyn Sullivan
Bring a book, take a book.
Light refreshments and a free bookmark for all attendees

The Little Free Library is constructed from reclaimed materials.  Design and build by Nick Timmermann of Timmermann Natural Landscapes

Little Free Library: Books and Maps

Exciting news this week.

First up, the Little Free Library has a new addition thanks to the lovely Julia at Defeat Despair.  She belongs to Paper Back Swap, a site for exchanging books. She ordered a copy of the beloved children’s book Charlotte’s Web and asked them to ship it here instead.

Charlotte's Web

Book Dedication

The book arrived over the weekend with a flood of memories.  My grade school teacher read it aloud to us after lunch each day, along with the other E.B. White classic, Stuart Little. Julia says:

I am excited about some family having access to this wonderful tale through your library. What a fun way to spread the joy of reading!

Thank you, Julia!

We’re on the Map

Our Little Free Library is on the official map.  It’s now searchable directly from the LFL site.  Here is a screen shot, complete with coordinates. What would the great explorers of the world think of that?

little free library screen capture

We’re on the map

I can’t tell you how happy I am when I see people stop and browse the library.  I surreptitiously watched twin girls pick out a book this weekend.  Monday I saw a pair of pre-teen girls drop off a few books. What joy.

In case you are new to this blog, or to the Little Free Library movement, you can catch up at the links below.