Take a Book, Leave a Book

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Find your next read (and share one, too) at Little Free Libraries

By James Rada, Jr.  |  Photography by Casey Martin

Elizabeth Weller runs the Amazing Heart Farm, a community support agriculture program in Orrtanna, so she’s used to visitors coming by her home to pick up orders. She gets really curious, though, when cars pull into her driveway and stop. These visitors are here for the library, only about a dozen square feet in size.

It’s called a Little Free Library, and it’s all about making it easy for people to find a book to read.

The Little Free Library movement began in 2009 with Todd Bol in Hudson, Wis. He built a model of a one-room schoolhouse and filled it with books as a way to honor his mother, a teacher who loved reading. The idea was an immediate hit as friends and neighbors began borrowing and returning books. Sometimes, they returned the same book they had borrowed; sometimes, it was a different one. The idea soon spread, and now Little Free Libraries can be found in every state and roughly two dozen countries.

The idea behind the Little Free Library movement is simple: to give people easy access to books to encourage them to read. Little Free Libraries can’t replace public and school libraries, but they can supplement them, giving children and adults more ways to get their hands on reading material and their noses buried in books.

Adams County has four Little Free Libraries.

Melanie Storm of Littlestown learned about Little Free Libraries
from the daughter of a friend who was
a librarian in Littlestown. She put up her library in her neighborhood and stocks it with books she gets from library book sales.

“I have mostly book club titles that the neighborhood ladies read,” Storm says. “I think it would get more use if I had children’s books.”

Weller’s library has a lot of
children’s books because she has a 2-year-old daughter. She says that she was surprised at how much use her library gets since she lives in an out-of-the-way location.

One of the nice things about Little Free Libraries is that you can buy plans and kits to build your own, or you can be original and build a library that reflects your personality. Likewise, the books you carry can be tailored to your individual preferences.

However, as patrons leave behind new books, the types of books often shift to reflect the users’ tastes rather than the owners’. “Some new books pop up and some disappear, but I try to keep a wide variety of titles that can become topics of conversation,” Storm says.

She is pleased with the usage the library gets and is always delighted to see a car stop and the driver get out to look at what’s in the library. “I have a guest book in my library that some people sign,” Storm says. “It’s been signed by three people who aren’t even from this area. I guess they heard about it by word of mouth.”

Weller is also happy when she sees a visitor using the library. “When I see someone drive by and spend time looking at the books, I have to wonder how they found out about it,” she says.

Ideally, once stocked, a Little Free Library should operate on its own with each book removed being replaced by another book. Weller says that she occasionally checks to make sure that there are enough books; she sometimes adds new ones.

There are more than 50,000 registered Little Free Libraries in more than 70 countries that loan millions of books annually. If you are traveling and want to see if there is a Little Free Library near you where you can pick up something to read, browse the website at www.littlefreelibrary.org. There, you
can search by town or zip code to find the libraries closest to you.

Adams County’s Little Free Libraries

www.littlefreelibrary.com

Elizabeth Weller, 181 Orrtanna Road, Orrtanna

Barbara and Jan Silletto-Hoch and Davis Lewis, 42 Skyline Court, Gettysburg

Melanie Storm, 105 Roberts Road, Littlestown

Painted Turtle Farm, near 247 West Broadway, Gettysburg, inside the fence of Painted
Turtle Farm

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