I’m re-blogging this one, with an update. Since publishing this, I have been interviewed by BBC Radio Oxford and also That’s Oxford TV. Links are below.
BBC Radio Oxford: Listen from 1hr 38mins for my interview about the Little Free Library (straight after Angels by Robbie Williams!) http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0303t19
That’s Oxford TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMlS3w4W3lA&feature=youtu.be&a
This blog is called Libraries Connect Communities, and never has this title been more apt than for this particular blog post. Last weekend, my wife and I opened our own library, in our small Oxfordshire village. Not the usual kind of library, though; ours is very, very small; so small, in fact, that people can’t fit inside it. Here’s a picture to prove it.
This is the story of how we ended up with a tiny library outside our house.
When we lived in Wisconsin, USA, we would often see Little Free Libraries dotted around towns and neighbourhoods. We discovered that the Little Free Library movement was founded by a Wisconsin resident, and this has now gone global, with over 30,000 of them worldwide. After moving to Freeland, a small rural Oxfordshire village in England, last summer, my wife suggested that we get a Little Free Library for our neighbourhood. By this time, I was a member of the Parish Council, so I raised the idea with my fellow councillors, who approved. At the same time, a Community Activities grant from the District Council was open to applications, so I applied on behalf of the Parish Council, for funding for our Little Free Library. To cut a long story short, the application was successful, and we were granted enough money to have the Little Free Library bespoke made by a local company. We finally installed and opened the library the first weekend of September 2015.
A Little Free Library helps to promote literacy and a love of reading, while providing a free book sharing service. We held an opening party, inviting members of the community to come along and donate any used books that they wished to contribute. We provided cookies and drinks, a make-a-bookmark activity for children, and a big box with which to fill with donated books. Little Free Libraries are not as well-known in the UK as they are in the US, so I had to put some effort into promoting our new library, including setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts for the Little Free Library, putting up posters in the village, liaising with the District Council to send out a press release, and even being interviewed on local radio.
The response from the local community has been very positive, and the library has been used everyday since it opened. It holds at most, about 30 or 40 books, and the contents change almost daily, depending on how many books are taken out and replaced with new ones. All the books are used, and were donated by friends, family, and members of the community. There is no permanent collection; rather, the books are continuously being shared and replaced as people take and give more books.
Aside from promoting literacy and a love of books, our Little Free Library is already connecting people in our community; at the opening party, we met and chatted with people that we didn’t know before, neighbours were able to meet other people in the village that otherwise they may never have met, and people are more inclined to say hello as they pass by our home. Setting up a Little Free Library can only be a good thing.
To find out more about these tiny libraries please visit http://littlefreelibrary.org
Thank you to the Pathway Workshop for making our Little Free Library.
Finally, many thanks to West Oxfordshire District Council for providing a grant for this project.