Morgan Street Little Free Library offers books on the go
The Morgan Street Little Free Library was recently opened by Carmen Kennedy at 707 East Morgan Street. Carmen says she calls it The Little Yellow Cottage.
Carmen first heard about Little Free Library when a friend sent her a newspaper article, complete with a picture of a family posed proudly around a little box of books in their front yard. The books were free to anyone who visited and the only request is that the taker brought one back some time.
“I thought it was a charming idea and went to the organization’s website at www.littlefreelibrary.org . There were photos of hundreds of colorful, creative boxes people had made. Some are quite simple. Some are made of odd things. One is made of an old refrigerator.”
“In 2009,” reads the website, “Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it. He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS.”
Later Bol met Rick Brooks of Madison and together they started the Little Free Library movement. Their mission statement is:
1. Promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.
2. Foster a sense of community and connection as we share skills, creativity, wisdom and the love of books across generations.
3. Build more than 2,510 libraries around the world (the number of “real” libraries built by Andrew Carnegie)!
“What sold me on the project,” confided Carmen, “was their mission statement. I am a lover of Andrew Carnegie. I grew up in Indiana and my family didn’t have the means to buy many books. I think I’d only been to a library twice when we lived in Indianapolis. The school librarian came around to the classroom every so often with a rolling cart of books, but not nearly often enough for me. When my family moved to the small town of Danville, I was allowed to ride my bike in the street, a fabulous perk of small town living! One day I discovered the library! It was an architecturally grand place and right inside the door was a brass plaque that said this library was here because of the generosity of Andrew Carnegie. I could read all the books I wanted. I would take stacks of them home and eventually worked there as a student librarian.
“I know what it’s like to want a book and need a book. I know what it’s like to be a kid and to be transported out of challenging conditions into the pages of a book. I found characters who became friends. I found wisdom, humor, hope, and darned good stories!”
Little Free Libraries can be built or purchased premade from the website. Carmen chose to build her own. Starting with two old transom windows that were in her attic, the process took her about two months. One friend taught her how to use her table saw safely, another taught her about hinges, and she had several consults with Todd Snapp.
However, not all that time was spent “building.” Carmen admitted that there were days she’d get stuck and have to walk away until she could figure something out.
When asked how it’s working, Carmen said, “Day by day, the books disappear and new ones show up. Really good books! I’ve read several. There’s also a guest book inside, signed by all sorts of people who wander by. It’s the Morgan Street Little Free Library, but anyone is welcome to take a book and bring a book. If anyone has books for 10 year olds, I’d gladly welcome them. I have a very nice little boy who visits with his sister.”
Little Free Library was officially established as a nonprofit corporation in May 2012, and received tax-exempt status from IRS that same year. They met their goal of 2,510 libraries in August of 2012. By January 2014, it was estimated there were between 10,000 and 12,000 libraries worldwide and thousands more being built.