When I retired from my job as Director of Product Development for Educational Insights one of my first goals was to open a library. On October 9, 2016 I did just that, hosting a grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, book-themed crafts, games, and food for my neighbors. Dozens of them turned out to bring and exchange books.
The library, a bright blue structure built by my husband from recycled wood, features a roof shingled with discarded CDs and vintage campaign buttons. Stacks of books are stenciled on the library’s sides. Located in my front yard in Manhattan Beach, California, it is a branch of the Little Free Library, an organization that promotes miniature residential libraries in communities world-wide based on the principle “take a book, return a book.” The library has something for everyone, from picture books to popular fiction, even some cookbooks.
I keep my library stocked with contributions from the friends and neighbors and by attending local library book sales where books withdrawn from circulation are offered to the public at bargain prices. Most recently, I picked up a grocery bag filled with hardcover children’s books for five dollars! The sales are a great resource for quality books for my Little Free Library and benefit the public libraries financially as well as make room for their newer titles. Occasionally, I post a notice on our local “free cycle” group and find a bag of books on my front steps.
I love being a library steward and seeing what my neighbors choose and leave in return. Popular adult fiction gets picked up the most. Children’s books about dinosaurs are also very popular. Two gorgeous, coffee-table photo books about Alaska have been the most interesting contribution so far.
I’m always in “steward mode.” I keep a box of books in my car trunk ready to “book bomb” the occasional library I come across in another community, and I research the location of free libraries on the organization’s website map when my husband and I take day trips. Other people have done such inventive things, from café-like touches including benches and tables to mascots like stuffed animals.
Another benefit of being a steward – if someone leaves a book in the library that looks interesting, I get to borrow it first!
Marcia Gresko is the former Director of Product Development for Educational Insights where she worked for 18 years. She is a published children’s book author and a former teacher. In addition to being a Little Free Library steward, she volunteers with a creative writing program in Los Angeles and at the museum of a local municipality. She is training to become a docent at a historical home in Los Angeles.