Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Clairemont's Little Free Libraries: Promoting Literacy, Building Community

by Janet Poutre

I have often bragged about the fact that Clairemont has 3 public libraries, feeling that it’s an indication of how intelligent and well-read our community is. Just recently, I found out I was wrong about this; there are more than 3 public libraries in Clairemont, we also have 3 “’Little Free Library” locations as well.

Never heard of a Little Free Library? The simplest explanation is that it is a box of books placed somewhere the public can come and take a book or leave a book.  Most are in the shape of a little house and mounted on a post outside their “steward’s” home.

The Little Free Libraries are an outgrowth of a project a man in Wisconsin did to honor his schoolteacher mother.  In 2009 Todd Bol built a miniature one-room schoolhouse and placed it on a post in his front yard. His mother loved reading so he filled it with books and included a sign: “free books”.  It was immediately popular in his neighborhood and he ended up building more for friends.

From that one box of books grew a movement that now includes somewhere around 15,000 libraries all over the world, and in many different shapes and sizes.  The mission of the Little Free Library is to “promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide, and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.”

Grandview Library
Here in Clairemont, I first spotted the one on Grandview in the 2600 block.  I’d seen a story somewhere about the little libraries and was really pleased to find we had one here.  The Moorhead family are the stewards of this one, and there are tiny brochures you can take that tell the story of the Little Free Libraries and how this one came to be. They also include info on how to start your own.

The Moorhead’s library was built by Grant Moorhead as a gift for his wife Laurie’s birthday, after she had seen one while traveling in the Berkeley area. As their brochure states “This is a community library. It is open to anyone in the community and it is our hope that it will increase our sense of belonging to the neighborhood we all share.”

As I was learning more online about the Little Free Libraries, I discovered there was another in Clairemont, on Karok Avenue.  This one was set up by Margie Mulligan and her husband Tom Rottler.
Karok Ave. Library
Margie’s first encounter with a Little Free Library was in Seattle, where her sister-in-law lives. There’s one on her block and she and her daughter visit often to choose or leave books.  Margie and Tom love to read too and thought Clairemont would be a great place for a Little Free Library.

“My friend decided to surprise me and build me one using his old fence. He did an amazing job! We put it up in August 2013 and had a neighborhood cookie welcome/book donation drive. We had a lot of neighbors stop in and say hello,” Margie said. “Yesterday, I learned that the local teen shelter uses the library often. I met a few of the teens and they seem excited about some of the popular titles in the library. I was really happy to find that they were getting a good use out of the library and hope they continue to do so. This is definitely one of the positives for having the library in our neighborhood.”

Pioneer Ocean View's Library
It isn't just individual families that are creating Little Free Libraries; Pioneer Ocean View United Church of Christ recently announced their new library to promote literacy and community in Clairemont. The Little Free Library is located at 2550 Fairfield Street, at the top of the walkway leading down to Western Hills Park.   Anyone is free to take a book from the library, or leave a book to share.

If you think you would like to start your own Little Free Library, or discover where to find more in San Diego, visit http://littlefreelibrary.org/. The website has lots of information about the program, how to build a library and locations of hundreds of libraries across the country.

1 comment:

  1. There is another one on Mt. Acadia, across the street from the park.


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