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Archive for Thursday, June 21, 2012

Little libraries’ put books up for sharing

June 21, 2012

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C.J. Brune stands next to a shelf stocked with books in her front yard that anyone can come by and borrow a book from, an endeavor inspired by the Little Free Library project.

C.J. Brune stands next to a shelf stocked with books in her front yard that anyone can come by and borrow a book from, an endeavor inspired by the Little Free Library project.

Darcy Schild is a book person. And book people, she says, like to share.

She worked as a librarian at Schwegler School for 32 years, retiring this year. When she heard about the Little Free Library project on the radio in March, she knew she had to join.

“I like to share books, of course,” she says, “and I thought, ‘what a fun way to do it!’”

The project aims to create more than 2,150 free and community-based libraries by encouraging homeowners to set up small shelves in their own yards. Schild’s is in the 2000 block of Marvonne Road, a wooden box with a see-through door and about 20 books that sits on a wall in her driveway. Anyone can drop by and pick up a book and then return it whenever or even replace it with another book.

What keeps people on the honor system? Well, Schild says, “If something’s free, it’s hard to steal.”

C.J. Brune heard the same story and was similarly inspired. Her home near Kansas University on 17th Street is filled with books and her impressive, sun-filled library has been home to meetings of neighborhood groups and social causes for years. She says books are a family obsession — her son is a librarian — and empowerment through knowledge is a core tenet of her activism.

So she had her husband, Bill Getz, build and paint an old-schoolhouse-shaped enclosed shelf, perched on a post in her front yard, in May. Since then, she’s been totally changing out the “stock” of about 30 books from her personal collection every Sunday.

Brune says she sees around four or five people a day check out the little library — many more than Schild’s, but Brune’s is on a fairly well-traveled walking path to the university. Both say that interest in their little libraries has helped them get to know more of their neighbors.

“If you trust people and help the community, it’ll pay off,” Brune says. “I get more back than I put in.”

Brune is especially open to the trading concept, open to passersby taking books for themselves, just as long as they contribute another title.

“If you find one you like, next time bring another,” she says. “It’s just important people enjoy it — and that they read.”

Comments

Ken Lassman 2 years, 5 months ago

Very cool. I like the "the revolution will be blogged" t shirt that CJ chose to wear for the picture

Beth Ennis 2 years, 5 months ago

what a great idea! I always am donating books as I collect too many of them to fit in our house. We may have to do this!

GreenEyedBlues 2 years, 5 months ago

This is so precious! Where was she when I purged about 600 lbs. of books from my home earlier this year?

Kookamooka 2 years, 5 months ago

There is a movement to do this all over Madison, WI. There is actually a man who makes and sells these "little library" boxes in the shape of hobbit houses and other magical structures. They have placed them all over the city and the books fly in and out regularly. I love the idea and would hope a book happy place like Lawrence, KS could do it to.

Katara 2 years, 5 months ago

While I totally love this idea and have read about this going on for decades in the Scandinavian countries, the little libraries that they sell are very expensive. The cheapest one is $250.00.

Perhaps someone locally can make a less expensive version for those of us who lack the woodworking skills needed to build one?

Kelly Cline 2 years, 5 months ago

Love this!! Check out Half Price Books on 23rd Street. They have $1 books that would be great to fill these little houses. Might have to put one in my neighborhood!!

Gart 2 years, 5 months ago

Is there a "Little Free Library" kit to build one of these things? Or, will this just be another tax opportunity for the **ity of Lawrence after installing?

gilly 2 years, 5 months ago

Katara and Gart: The beauty of the free library idea is that you can join the Little Free Library group and put up a library box--or you can do it on your own. The library boxes don't have to be fancy. There's one across from the Student Union at KU--an old newstand--and it's been there for years. It's the idea that counts; how you back it up is up to you.

gilly 2 years, 5 months ago

Dear Journal-World: While you have correctly identified the inimitable C.J. Brune in the photo accompanying this story on this webpage, you have misidentified her as Darcy Schild under the same photo on the main news page for today, June 24. I'm sure that Darcy Schild is likewise a lovely person; may we have a photo of her next to a Little Free Library as well?

Sarah St. John 2 years, 5 months ago

I'd love to do this. I wonder how you protect the books from the weather....

PhilipMSr 2 years, 5 months ago

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FloridaSunshine 2 years, 5 months ago

Oh, I LOVE this idea!!! As with C.J. Brune, books are a family obsession for us, too. I can hardly wait to tell my daughter and granddaughter all about this!!

JackMcKee 2 years, 5 months ago

She's doing it all wrong. She doesn't even have an attached parking garage?

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