“I’ve read forever,” said Ann McConnell, School Street, Leesburg. And when she finishes her books she shares and exchanges books with family and friends.
So when she saw an item in the AARP newsletter about individuals setting up lending libraries at their homes, also known as “Little Free Library,” she thought, “what a clever idea.”
McConnell had just retired several months before and began to search for plans to have her husband build an outdoor type bookcase. Before she could find plans, she went to garage sales and found what she felt was a perfect cabinet.
Making a few adjustments and additions, the cabinet, containing books, was installed at the west edge of their circle drive on July 4, 2012. “I decided to put it further away from the house so people would feel free to drive in and get to it. I like the idea people are free to come and go without someone watching them,” she said.
Use of the books is free, with the request of just returning what was borrowed.
While she hasn’t seen many use it, admitting she doesn’t sit there and watch who comes and goes, her husband has. She related how there are times he has been working in the yard and will see people come in and choose books. The excitement in her voice was apparent as she recalled the first time someone was seen using it.
There have been youngsters stopping by, arriving with an adult on golf carts, even adults themselves. Some stop in several times a week, others once in a while.
“It makes me feel good when people read,” she said. McConnell pointed out another reason for sharing her desire to read: there’s no public library in Leesburg. This makes books available with out paying a library fee.
She tries to stock the small library with books for all ages and for a while she tried to keep track of what people were taking. “I have a lot of books for a little space. I wanted to try to use it for what people want.”
Her initial idea to find out the preferences didn’t quite work, paper and pencil misuse resulted, so she is attempting to find another means to learn what the readers are interested in. “I haven’t figured that out,” she stated. So for now it’s trial and error. “I’d really like feedback,” thinking maybe people could leave her notes.
When she did keep track, she found adults were interested in James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks and Janet Evanovich books. All mysteries.
So far the little library is left out from May until November. “After school started, we began not seeing as many visits. So we took it down for the winter and put it up in May when the weather got nicer.” If there’s interest the library may stay out longer. She also adds a few stuffed animals for the younger ones when the weather is nice.
McConnell grew up a few blocks from the Warsaw Public Library and spent many days there. “I learned to love books early,” she commented, stating books were a way of life when she was growing up. “I learned so much.”
She has been the recipient of many books given to her by friends and from her garden club. The Town and Country Garden Club adopted McConnell’s interest as a project for Christmas presenting her with up to 200 used books, mostly for children. Other books are purchased at garage sales, Friends of Library sales and just recently a retired teacher offered any of his books off his book case. “I picked up the Harry Potter series, Laura Ingalls Wilder books and A Wrinkle in Time,” she said.
Until now she hasn’t publicized the lending library, just leaving notes at a homes a street or so away. But recently she had her library posted on the Little Free Library’s map.
Little Free Library promotes literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide with a goal to build as many libraries as Andrew Carnegie and beyond. The free libraries range in various designs and made from numerous materials including cardboard boxes. More information about the Little Free Library is available at www.littlefreelibrary.org.