Reading brings us into another world and often, we use it an escape from our daily lives. We find ourselves browsing the aisles of the Long Beach Public Library or at a local bookstore looking for a new read.
But located outside of your neighbor’s house might be a small replica of a home filled with a handful of various books. This is known as a Little Free Library and it gives 24-hour access to the community to dive into new books and explore new genres.
Currently, there are over 75,000 free libraries with a handful in the city, including our East Long Beach community.
“It’s the idea of sharing the excitement of reading,” said Lisa Franey, a Little Free Library steward. “I think it’s really the idea that someone might read a book that they might not necessarily read or read more because they are able to get their hands on a book.”
Lisa and her husband Jim have owned a Little Free Library for about a year now. When they came across a free library while walking around their neighborhood, they eagerly joined the Little Free Library community.
“My husband designed it,” Lisa said. “We decided we wanted to make ours fun and colorful to make it noticeable and approachable for kids.”
The library holds about 40 books and Lisa makes sure it is always filled, so people who visit always have a new selection of books. She also makes an effort to go to garage sales so the library has various genres including kid books.
“[It’s] always smooshed with books because I don’t want someone to walk up and say ‘darn, there is nothing I want here,’” she said.
Even when she and her husband travel, they aim to “book bomb” other Little Free Libraries by bringing books to other stewards to ensure the libraries are filled.
Other Little Free Library stewards like Meaghan O’Neil from El Dorado Nature Center just stumbled upon it.
“We put it up in 2015 and it was actually a gift that was built for us by the Lowe’s Champion programs,” Meaghan said. “They do a local service project with the community and did a project for us with leftover wood.”
A cute little house was built, but the nature center did not know how to make use of it until the idea of Little Free Library was brought up.
“A personal friend of mine had created one in his front yard and when I saw that, I thought we could do it here in the nature center,” Meaghan said. “It was a great way, with the philosophy of recycling and reusing, and sharing the books with the public here. It’s really kind of came naturally.”
The Little Free Library can hold anywhere from 30 to 40 books with a selection of adult, children, and even environmental books. When the nature center gets donations, staff will swap out books and during the holidays put up Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas books, so the selection is relative to the season.
People can always donate books by leaving them at the Little Free Library or dropping them off at the front counter of the nature center.
“[It] usually can get kind of full so they have a storage area, where we keep them and organize them on the daily,” Meaghan said. “It can also get chaotic with a bunch of kids in there flipping through books.”
Unfortunately, the El Dorado Nature Center’s Little Free Library is only open during business hours on Tuesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We have some great public libraries in town, but sometimes libraries can be intimidating for people or not convenient,” Lisa said. “It definitely enhances our community, our Long Beach community.”
To learn more about Little Free Library or to find one in your neighborhood, visit https://littlefreelibrary.org.