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June 16, 2014

Little Free Library - Straight from the Steward

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Rachel B. is not only a member of the Teenreads Teen Board, but she's also the steward of a Little Free Library (LFL)! As of January 2014 there were 15,000 Little Free Libraries around the world, but Rachel's, which is located in her front yard, definitely stands out --- it's decorated with book-reading hedgehogs! Read below to see how Rachel got into LFLs, some of her favorite LFL moments and how  you can start one,  yourself.
 

 
I am the steward of a Little Free Library (LFL), a small, wooden "library" that houses about 40 books at a time.  Anyone who visits the LFL can take as many books as they like and come back with those books or any other book they have already read.  As the steward, I provide books, bookmarks and other materials for patrons as well as clean and maintain the LFL.
 
I was inspired to become a steward because of another Little Free Library in my community.  After I saw it, I began to research the history of Little Free Libraries because I thought that the idea was wonderful.  I found the Little Free Library organization's website, www.littlefreelibrary.org, and I learned that the first LFL was built in 2009, and, as of January 2014, there are 15,000 LFLs around the world.  I also discovered that many stewards decorate their LFL to reflect their and the community's interests.  Some stewards have custom-built LFLs, but others pick one of the many LFL designs that can be ordered on the website. 

I received my LFL in December 2013 as a Christmas gift.  It is now installed in my front yard.  My official Little Free Library number is 10628, but it is nicknamed "The Literate Hedgehog" because of my pet hedgehog and because I ran a reading blog with the same name last school year.  I painted my LFL to include the name and images of hedgehogs reading books.  You can visit http://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/ to find a LFL in your community, and to view a photograph of my LFL in Charlottesville, VA.

When I first installed my LFL, I was unsure how it would be received.  I live on a fairly busy road, so I knew that cars would probably not stop to use it.  But, there are also many walkers and joggers on my street, so I hoped that they would use the LFL.  I did not know what types of books would be taken frequently, so I initially put out a variety of books.

But, almost immediately, people began to take and leave books.  I have seen dog walkers, joggers, bikers, families and even cars and motorcyclists stop and take a book.  People from as far away as South Carolina have left novels.  Local authors commonly leave books; John Ruemmler left his historical fiction novel SMOKE ON THE WATER, and NTOMBAZANA by Michael Garstang was also placed in the LFL.  Most of the books that are taken are elementary school or adult books.  I have been amazed at how quickly the inventory of books has rotated.  Every day there is a new book or two to be found.

Some patrons also leave notes in a composition notebook I placed inside the LFL for that purpose.  I have received countless comments and notes, all of them positive.  Examples include:  "Thanks for this great library!  It makes my walks home from school much more enjoyable.  Kudos!"; "I adore your hedgehog library, which I stumbled upon on a morning run."; "I've been spreading the word about the library and hope to walk by a lot this summer."; and "Fantastic idea! Love the hedgehog knob.  Many thanks!".  

I have greatly enjoyed being a Little Free Library steward.  I have already received comments from other individuals who plan to install their own LFL, and I hope that even more readers will be inspired to contribute to their community by building one.  


Rachel B. is a member of the Teen Board.