“Little free libraries” pop up in Kingston

Literacy project brings the magic of reading to your doorstep

The little book library at 8 Redan St.
The little book library at 8 Redan St.
A "little free library" at 242 Rideau St.
A "little free library" at 242 Rideau St.
407 Division St.'s little free library.
407 Division St.'s little free library.

If you aren’t feeling up to a trip to your local library, the Little Free Libraries project may be just what you need. 

Since the movement began in 2009 with one man and a little box of books in Wisconsin, little libraries have grown in popularity worldwide. As described on the project’s website littlefreelibrary.org, the premise of the movement is to promote a passion for literacy and encourage community building through free book exchanges. 

Anyone can set up a box of books in front of their home with a sign designating it a ‘free library’. Members of the community can then take books to read and return, or exchange them for others. This process allows people to discover literature they otherwise wouldn’t have found and gives neighbors more opportunities to engage with each other. 

Kingston resident Nancy Jones, a former librarian who has had her own little free library for over a year, said the community has enjoyed having access to the variety of books she provides.

“People are delighted. They’re really happy to have it here, they say thank you all the time,” she said. 

Another little free librarian, Lyn Gallagher, said she has encountered people from all walks of life through her library. Her book box is a re-purposed heater set up in her front yard at 407 Division St.

“From the bag lady to the business woman walking home from work, everybody checks in there, everybody’s got an interest.” 

Although the feedback I received on my quest to find local little free libraries and their owners was generally positive, the project hasn’t always gone smoothly. 

Some of the boxes experience vandalism, while others aren’t replenished by users. Gallagher’s original library box was broken, while Jones said she adds as many as 10 books a week to keep her library stocked.

So, whether you pass by a little free library on your way to campus or you’re on the lookout for book box, add a book when you take one. That way, we’ll keep this community movement up and running for years to come. 

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