I have a confession to make.
Are you ready?
Its nothing too outrageous.
OK, here it is: yes, I work as a Library Assistant in an academic library, but I also run my own library on the side. Well, when I say “library” what I really mean is a community book exchange. These book exchanges are part of a global network that promotes literacy in local communities. The Little Free Library organisation began in Wisconsin, USA, and it is one of these small book exchanges that I run in my community.
Little Free Library
I’m a member of my parish council, and we successfully applied for a grant from West Oxfordshire District Council to set up our own Little Free Library. I know that there is some controversy among some professional librarians who view these little boxes as offensive, for using the term “library” incorrectly. Although ours is officially referred to as a Little Free Library, the correct term ought to be a community book exchange.
Free Book Exchange
Here’s how it works; anyone is welcome to give or take books as they wish, and they don’t have to bring them back. There is no permanent collection of books, rather all the books belong to the community and they come and go as people take them. It is a great way to people to share books that they no longer want, and to swap them for new ones. We have a shelf specifically for children’s books, and one for adults.
We launched our book exchange two years ago and it has been a huge success. It is used every day by all age groups in our community. As a result, I have met and got to know more people in my community than I otherwise would have done, and it has become an asset in our village that has no amenities other than a school, church, village hall and a pub (our mobile library service was scrapped last year due to government funding cuts).
As regular readers of this blog will know, I am all about communities, and how libraries connect them together. Although in no way a substitute for a real local library, these small book exchanges are a great way for neighbourhoods to share used books and to foster a greater sense of community. It has been nothing but a positive experience, and the project has been overwhelmingly embraced in my community.
You can read more about our Little Free Library book exchange project here.