Little Free Libraries
The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Libraries (CH-UHL) of Ohio are part of a small movement with big potential: Little Free Libraries. Little Free Libraries are small, dollhouse-like structures containing books for people to borrow or exchange. People can take a book and bring another book to replace it, or just return it. The Little Libraries are located on yards, tree lawns, and street corners. The project helps to promote reading and literacy among the community members. It is also another way of providing outreach services. I wanted to find out about the CH-UHL Little Free Libraries, so contacted the library’s project manager, Sam Lapides.
The Little Free Library project at CHUHL started in 2012. The library administration was interested in the project in order to bring a new service to Cleveland Heights-University Heights residents. After getting approval from the library director Nancy Levin, Lapides found a local craftsman who agreed to build three Little Libraries for a small fee. The library then pursued gaining permission to place the Little Libraries in approved locations throughout the city. In order to publicize the Little Libraries, the library held an ice cream social at each Little Library location during the summer. Since the Little Libraries are in front of volunteer homes, the owners of the homes are stewards of the Little Libraries. They agreed to stock the Little Libraries with appropriate materials. The response from the community has been fantastic. During the first six months, volunteer stewards had to restock the Little Libraries on a regular basis, but now that the community is more aware of the program, residents are bringing their own books to restock and the Little Libraries are basically self-sustaining. The main ingredient that has led to success for CH-UHL in this project was finding enthusiastic stewards who live in neighborhoods.
Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public library web site. 2013. “Little Free Library Project” http://www.heightslibrary.org/page/little_free