just turned one,
and what a year
it has been!
I’ve settled in as the library steward, and this is what I’ve learned, so far, about how a Little Free Library works:
1. If you build it, they will come.
Readers found and began using the library right away. And, wow, do they use it! Last summer, I stocked the library with my own books and books that I found in thrift shops. For a while, those books made up the library’s “catalogue.” After readers became comfortable using the library, they began donating their own books. Today, much of the Little Free Library’s catalogue comes from its patrons.
2. Kids like it.
When I set up my Little Free Library, last summer, I put books for grownups on the top shelf and kid’s books on the bottom. The kid’s books quickly disappeared. I discovered that unless parents intervene, kids forget to return what they borrow. I made the decision not to restock the kid’s bookshelf, and, soon, kids, and parents, too, wondered why there were no children’s books in the Little Free Library. Some of the “borrowed” books came back, and parents began donating books for kids.
3. Bad weather doesn’t keep readers away.
I live in Wisconsin, and winters here are snowy and cold. But that didn’t stop die-hard readers. They came, bundled in their parkas, mittens, and snow boots. Some even came in cars! So, I made sure that the library was stocked with books for cozy, fireside reading.
4. Dogs like it, too!
The library is popular with dog walkers, so I’ve added a plastic jar with dog treats and a small sign on the door: Doggie Treats Inside. Dogs are no dummies! After that first treat, they drag their people down the block to the Little Free Library. The dog treats have proven to be a great marketing tool. It forces those who might not stop otherwise to open the door and see what’s inside.
5. It’s not MY Little Free Library.
The library has taken on a life of its own. Readers aren’t shy anymore about opening the door to see what’s inside. They bring their friends. One lady is our self-appointed “tidier.” She shows up every week to tidy up the books, separating the hardcovers from the paperbacks and arranging them by size!
I’ve learned to stay in the background. I think that is what a good steward does. I check on the library often and stock it with bookmarks and doggie treats. But otherwise, I’m like the librarian sitting at her desk ready to help whenever I’m needed. The less I intervene, the more MY Little Free Library becomes EVERYONE’S Little Free Library—
And that is exactly what it’s supposed be.
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