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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Little Free Library

 
You're walking along tree-lined North Catalina Avenue in Altadena** on a warm, autumn day. Just north of Atchison Street you pass a sort of pumpkin-on-a-stick with a window in it, and you think, "I need to take a closer look at this thing."

This is not a pumpkin-on-a-stick, it's a tiny library in a Halloween costume. You've discovered one of the three Little Free Libraries in Altadena**. There may be more around here, the list/map is not up-to-date, and there are hundreds more around the United States. The mission of the Little Free Library is to promote literacy, build a sense of community, and build more than 2,510 libraries around the world ("more than Andrew Carnegie," they say, though his are somewhat larger, and I've never seen one dressed up for the holiday).

The little window is deceiving--there are two full rows of books: paperbacks and hardbacks, nonfiction, cookbooks, novels, books on business, books for kids, and more. The idea is simple: just come and take a book. Leave a book, too, if you can. I left four yesterday so if you can't this time, it's on me.

**I had this wrong. This is inside the Pasadena border.

30 comments:

Dina said...

This one is so inviting. I love the idea of the Little Free Library.
I doubt that it would work here.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I remember reading an article in the Times about a house that set up a library like this... Is this the one the article referred to? The article told how the owner who set the library up loved hearing the footsteps of the visitors and was anxious to see what books were left or borrowed... He was amazed as to the types of books left as well as borrowed by the patrons... What a cool recycling idea as well as get folks into reading!.

Petrea Burchard said...

Dina, tell us why it wouldn't work in Jerusalem?

KBF, I don't know if this is the one. Click on either link--there are pictures and articles. People are really having fun with this.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Wow I am amazed as to a huge cluster of them in northern cali!. Somehow the one I remember was somewhere in Venice, Cali...Such a smart idea!.

Petrea Burchard said...

Yeah. I like the neighborhood feel of this, and I love what you said about hearing the footsteps of visitors. I live in Pasadena, not Altadena, but I'm not too far from this one, and my neighbor told me about it.

Ann Erdman said...

This is a lovely idea. I wonder if the receptacle becomes a Christmas tree in winter and a bunny rabbit in spring.

Petrea Burchard said...

I hope so! Even if it doesn't, the box is beautifully made, with childrens' building blocks.

Desiree said...

Charming! I want one now! Or, maybe I'll just walk over and borrow a book.

Bellis said...

What a lovely little library pumpkin! All the free libraries are beautiful - does the organization make them for the homeowners, or are they all homemade? It wouldn't work in the UK, either. Too much mindless vandalism and theft. The pianos put around the streets of Cambridge were soon wrecked. Bikes for the free bike scheme were thrown in the river. A sad reflection on society.

Petrea Burchard said...

Desiree, let us know if you do. I'd be interested to know your impressions.

Bellis, I believe there are kits. If you look at the website you can see photos of the different ones. But I don't suppose creativity is at all discouraged.

Petrea Burchard said...

Vandalism and theft could happen here just as easily. I think these people are displaying faith in their fellows, and their fellows are showing them they're right to do so.

dive said...

I love it! What a fabulous idea!

Speedway said...

I'd love that here. Maybe there is a place, but the little boxes would be vandalized in no time.

Years ago, my friend Carl and I often went to do our laundry at a laundromat in the small town where we kept our boat. We found books there, primarily romance novels, left by customers. We took the opportunity to add to the stash by leaving books of our own. I one time put together a boxful from my shelves, including my Harry Potter books (I can always buy replacements, right?). I've often wondered what the person thought who happened upon our little offerings.

Deb said...

A very public spirited idea and new to me. Makes a great image too!

Petrea Burchard said...

Could this really not happen in the UK, then, Dive and Deb? There must be places where it would work.

Speedway, you probably brought someone a lot of joy.

Bruce Moision said...

Hey, that's our library! It's fun to see it on your page.

We were also inspired by that article in the LA Times a few weeks back. It's been fun to host. We filled it a few times at the start, and add books now and then, but it's mostly self-sustaining at this point. It's interesting to see what comes and goes.

Christy Moision said...

So fun to see our little library on your blog! As my husband said, we are having a great time being its stewards.

I wanted to address the vandalism issue. We've really only had one problem: our original door handle was a Lego R2D2 mini-figure and it was stolen. We replaced it and it was stolen again, so we decided to go with a less tempting handle. You can see pictures of the library as it was originally at LFL's Flickr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/68010601@N03/7669212210/.

Overall, we just really love having the library -- it's fun to see the daily turnover and we've gotten great feedback from our neighbors!

Petrea Burchard said...

Hello, Bruce and Christy! Thanks for stopping by. I'm not surprised you've gotten great feedback. The Little Free Library is a generous addition to your neighborhood, and I imagine people love it.

The Flickr photo shows the library without its Halloween costume, definitely worth a look.

Adele said...

That is a really wonderful idea! So nice to do it in a neighborhood, to build and/or keep a sense of community. Love it. And it's cute, too!

Ms M said...

What a wonderful idea! And for Halloween, a real treat, instead of a trick.

Petrea Burchard said...

Yes, and it looks like Bruce and Christy have gone to a lot of trouble to build it well and keep it attractive (and seasonal).

Susan Campisi said...

It's darling! This pumpkin-on-a-stick Little Free Library has restored my faith in humanity. I love it! I perused the photos on Flickr. What a special addition to any neighborhood.

Paul B said...

I love this idea. Andrew Carnegie was perhaps a man ahead of his time. Why should it take the money and idea of one man to create something so obviously good for the who of society. I live perhaps 15 minutes walk from a Carnegie library and its in a pretty sorry state.

Petrea Burchard said...

Public funding is suffering all over the world, isn't it, Paul? Not far from me, in South Pasadena, the Carnegie Library thrives. http://bit.ly/YnnXzn
This has a lot to do with a citizenry that has actively supported it over many years, despite intermittent lack of funding.

Jean Spitzer said...

I want one. What a fabulous idea.

Speedway said...

As it turns out, we have three Little Libraries in Indy, one or two others in other, smaller towns.

Petrea Burchard said...

Jean, I have a feeling this is one of those "if you build it, they will come" situations.

I'm not surprised, Speedway. The map showed two in Altadena and didn't even show this one. I didn't even look at Pasadena.

Petrea Burchard said...

Okay, I just checked it. It shows two in Pasadena, one of them being Bruce & Christy's. So maybe the border is iffy in that spot, or in my head.

Christy Moision said...

Petrea, we are in Pasadena actually. Atchison is kind of wonky that way -- half the street is Altadena (or unincorporated Pasadena) but we are Pasadena proper.

Petrea Burchard said...

Aha! Thank you! I'll put a note in the copy.