Popping up in neighborhoods all over Calgary are cute little wooden houses filled with books. From one room school houses to gingerbread type themes, these Little Free Libraries are a free book exchange aimed to promote literacy, a love of reading and a sense of community.
When I first noticed these little houses popping up I thought they were pretty neat and the concept of sharing books interesting. I had seen a similar concept before in coffee shops where there was an area where you could take a book or leave a book for free, but these houses intrigued me. What were they all about? Was this some one of a kind random unique idea?
First I was drawn to the designs, some old school houses, bird houses or colorful boxes with unique designs. All of them different, all of them housing books of all kinds, shapes and sizes. I found them in my local neighborhood, near the swimming pool, the grocery store, some at the end of the neighbors front lawn. I have always loved books and though I love to read, I also love to share what I read with others. These houses are a great way to do that.
When I looked more closely I realized that these houses were part of a much larger organization. Started in 2009 by Todd Bol of Wisconsin, there are now 36,000 Little Free Libraries around the world. I thought this was absolutely amazing and such a wonderful idea!
I love how I can literally walk out my front door and around the corner to pick up a book. I love how I can take a book, or share a book, and I love that one of the goals of these little libraries is to promote a sense of community. We tend to spend way too much time in our houses and not always getting to know our neighbours, these libraries provide an opportunity to get out there and meet some of them and share common interests.
I think it’s a great way to get kids interested in reading as well, drawn by the unique houses, they are curious to peek in and check them out. My kids often ask if they can take a look inside when they see one, and though there may not always be a book in there for them, it gets them curious, it gets them thinking and exploring. It is also a great way to encourage them to share books they enjoy, in hopes that someone else will find it and enjoy it as much as they have.
So the next time you see a little house at the end of the road or near the local grocery store go and check it out. You never know what treasures you might find or the people you may meet.