Doylestown’s Little Free Libraries: An Adventure in Reading!
If your child attends a local school district than you’re likely familiar the yearly, grade-specific “Summer Reading” list. You know, the list your child probably stuffed in the bottom of his backpack at the end of last school and has likely forgotten about. Yes, that one!
I love that our thoughtful school librarians compose these lists to ensure your child’s reading growth during the summer months. Let’s face it. Some kids need a list, along with a loving push or two from mom or dad, to even open a book during the summer months. So, I always appreciated having a go-to list to consult, especially when my sons were elementary aged.
Still, with the sun shining, pools cooling, and ice creaming dripping, getting your kids to drop by their local library might take a bit of cajoling. That is…until this summer!
Little Free Libraries of Doylestown
There’s a fun phenomenon happening in Doylestown that has local readers, young and old alike, wanting to dive into their next good book. Have you heard about or perhaps even seen the Little Free Libraries popping up all over town? Little Free Libraries (LFL) is a world-wide initiative all about building “literacy friendly” neighborhoods. And Doylestown is quickly becoming one of them, thanks to local resident Marlene Pray.
“Building and opening our LFL emerged this spring at the same time my 7-year-old’s interest in reading literally exploded. Suddenly we were at the library and sharing books daily,” says Pray, who introduced Doylestown to this initiative.
“Having our own Little Free Library is a natural extension of our excitement about stories, sharing with friends and stranger, and also the childlike wonder of finding treasures. I have as much joy watching a 4 year old sitting on the bench with a parent reading a story as an elderly neighbor that pushes his walker by our house and stops to exchange a book and leave a note in our log.”
So, what exactly is a Little Free Library? Just take a look at some of the photos and you’ll see that physically it can be made from just about anything. One popular option is re-purposing old newspaper stands, while others include constructing libraries from old bookshelves, cabinets, and even dollhouses. As long as it’s sturdy and weather-proof and can store as many beloved books as possible inside, you have yourself a library. Some local Little Free Library stewards (owners) like Pray, even extend their neighborliness by providing extra “free veggies” from their garden or dog biscuits and a water bowl for four-legged friends who stop by.
Talk about adding a fun twist to promoting a love for reading! These adorable, creative, and carefully crafted libraries hold countless adventures in reading inside. All that your kids (and you) have to do is discover them.
How to find a Little Free Library
So, how do you go about finding a Little Free Library? Well, I would suggest that half the fun is simply stumbling upon them as you’re out and about running errands, shopping (hint: Main Street Marketplace), taking a walk (hint: Hansell Park), having a cup of coffee (hint: at Zen Den), or doing business in town (hint: Dtown Tech, Crossroads Bakery, Central Bucks YMCA). But if you have a more purposeful mission in mind, you can visit the Little Free Library of Doylestown Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/LFLDoylestown/) to see the latest list of locations (some of the libraries are still in progress).
At the time of this blog post, there are 13 lovely libraries, all with their own unique personal style, to visit in Doylestown Borough, township, and surrounding communities. And, the number is growing each week. Worldwide, the Little Free Library non-profit organization boasts some 30,000 locations.
Pray, steward of her Maple Lane Little Free Library, has dedicated her time to helping others start their own LFLs and provides inspiration, guidance, and helpful information on her LFL of Doylestown Facebook page. Additional resources to get started or to officially register your LFL can be found at the organization’s website at www.littlefreelibrary.org.
How Little Free Libraries Work
You might be wondering, like I did, how a LFL is different than a visit to our own Bucks County Free Library in Doylestown. Let me start by saying that the Doylestown Free Library is welcoming of our ever-growing library pop-ups around town. In fact, the library is making donations of books available to the LFL stewards.
According to Pray, “The manager at the Doylestown library is very excited about the LFLs and recognizes that their presence throughout the community promotes literacy, love of books, and often offers a steady turnover of books in neighborhoods that are not close to a public library.”
Once you’ve discovered a Little Free Library, the “rules” of enjoying one are very simple: take a book or two and read it! Once you’re done, you don’t necessarily have to return it to the same LFL or even return it at all. Part of the fun of frequent visits to the LFLs around Doylestown is to see the ever-changing inventory of books as people borrow and/or leave a book behind. At any one time, a library may have more children’s books or may have more for adults to enjoy.
“Since each LFL is a personal journey, everyone has different ways they do or do not track [book] usage,” explains Pray. “I know of some stewards in other areas that have tracking codes on all of their books and sometimes those books cross state lines and even end up across the ocean.”
She adds, “We live on a quiet street in the Borough and get daily visitors to the library. At least a few books a day go in and out, and every week or two, I'll trade out all of the books for new titles.
If someone takes a book or two, they do not need to return it to that LFL. Maybe it's a favorite title and they want to add it to their own library, or pass it on to a friend. Returning it to any LFL is also fine. Some stewards have a few favorite books they put out and wish to have returned, and marking them with a note about that is helpful.”
There you have it! In a world of digital downloads, it’s refreshing to see excitement in our town about holding a book in your hands. As an educator, it’s even more gratifying to see when that book gets in the hands of a young reader!
So kids, you know what that means don’t you? It’s time to visit one of the Little Free Libraries of Doylestown and get your summer reading done!