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Take a book, leave a book

Maureen Davidson built this Little Free Library with a copper roof in her neighborhood behind St Andrews Church. PHOTO/ERIC SOKOL

BY ERIC SOKOL
OU News Bureau

Colorful yet simple wooden boxes in public spaces have unified communities and strengthened the interest for reading.

Rochester Hills Public Library, with cooperation from Rochester Hills Parks Department, established three Little Free Libraries in Bloomer Park, Thelma Spencer Park and along the Paint Creek Trail in the last few years.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization based in Hudson, Wisconsin, that oversees more than 50,000 libraries across the country, allowing anyone to obtain a charter by paying a one-time $40 fee to construct their own.

“It was a joint decision between me and the supervisor at the time,” said Rebecca LaFave, outreach services and bookmobile librarian. “We thought it would be a nice thing for the community, to be able to contribute and participate in a different way than the public library does.”

The libraries operate on a take-a-book leave-a-book honor system, though there was a slight learning curve in the beginning.

“At first when I put them out, I would come back and they would be empty,” LaFave said. “Now, you can see that people are contributing. There’s books that I didn’t put in there.”

This Little Free Library in Bloomer park was established in 2015 by Rochester Hills Public Library in cooperation with the Rochester Hills Parks Department. PHOTO/ERIC SOKOL

The official website has a search option and map feature to locate all registered Little Free Libraries nearby.

“We put our libraries on the map, so that way people who were looking for the Little Free Libraries could find them,” LaFave said.

The libraries allow access and a wide range of reading material for people of all ages.

“If you’re a little kid who might not be able to get to the library, the idea is that you have access no matter where you are,” said Amanda Harrison Keighley, community relations specialist for Rochester Hills Public Library. “That’s why our goal is to have them all over the place because it’s really just making reading accessible.”

In a neighborhood next to St. Andrews Church in Rochester, Maureen Davidson and her daughter built their own Little Free Library.

“I really wanted to share my love of reading along with a sense of community,” said the Rochester resident. “So, this was a way for me to do both of those things.”

The concept allows for creative uses.

“In ours, it’s books and magazines,” Davidson said.

Magazines make for a quick read while parents watch their children at a nearby playground.

From left, Rebecca LaFave, outreach services and bookmobile librarian for the Rochester Hills Public Library; Amanda Harrison Keighley, community relations specialist; and Maureen Davidson, a Rochester resident who built her neighborhood Little Free Library. PHOTO/ERIC SOKOL

The reading community’s participation causes a surplus of donations to the Little Free Library.

“There’s no shortage of people willing to give you books,” Davidson said.

When Little Free Libraries get too full, their owners must come up with creative ways to reduce the number of books.

“I would take a couple out and then try to rotate them,” Davidson said. “I have a couple in my house right now that I’ve had to take out — there’s no more room.”

The libraries are busy all year long, drawing in people from other activities within the parks.

“The Spencer Park one is near an ice skating rink in the winter, and it’s near the beach in the summer,” LaFave said. “We get a lot of good use out of that one.”

“It’s a great community project,” Keighley said.

 

 

 

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Posted by on Nov 26 2017. Filed under Featured article, Oakland County. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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