Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Salem Neighbor joins the Little Free Library Movement

You may have seen historian and humorist Bart King's opinion piece about neighborhood libraries in the Oregonian the other day.

He writes:
An urban blight is threatening Portland. No, not condominiums without adequate parking spaces, though those are quite worrisome. Rather, I refer to the scourge of Little Free Libraries....

Little Free Libraries (LFLs) are spreading like an epidemic across the U.S., and there are now more than a dozen in the Portland metro area. The supposed intent of the LFL movement is to inspire reading. That is, since anyone can use an LFL to take (or leave) a book, free literature is available to any and all passers-by.

Some people will maintain that LFLs are harmless, but let's consider some of the threats they pose. For example, what organization polices the contents of these library boxes? What prevents patrons from stealing free books? And is the Dewey Decimal System being properly adhered to?

I'm also concerned that these libraries discriminate against 21st-century readers. To illustrate this, I took my e-reader to my nearby LFL. But after scouring the entire book-box, I was unable to discover any downloading capabilities. The shelves contained nothing but antiquated, physical books....
Well, the "blight" has reached Salem!

Salem's First Little Free Library?

Salem's library even has a facebook page. Apparently it went live the end of March, and a ramble over the weekend turned it up!

The Little Free Library has a webpage and ambitions to exceed in number (if not in size or cost!) the entire Carnegie program of well over 2,000 libraries.

Salem's Carnegie Library on the left
The Little Free Library sells plans, bookplates, and other supporting materials if you're inspired to contribute to the blight.

The available books are a random jumble, of course, but that's part of the charm.  You may strike out, you may find something you didn't even know you wanted.  And then it's your turn to pass on a book.  Keep 'em in circulation. 

(But, yeah, no ebooks yet...)

More than the circulation of books and ideas, things like this are a great way to liven up the streetscape and to knit connections among neighbors. 

Nicely done!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

How we adore our little bundle of blight! We watched with great joy one day to discover a group of middle school aged boys walk past the little free library while one boy lingered. He soon called his buddies over to search through the contents of the library. His friends didn't hang around long, however he proudly presented his book pick to his friends, grinning.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Ah...here's more on the blight, including a bunch of pictures during construction and installation, as well as photos of neighborly cheer.

Glad to hear of the school children!