Churches join the Little Library movement to encourage reading
By Fred Jessett
A project to create a small rolling library to use any time, anywhere inside St. Stephen's Episcopal Church was squashed by the pandemic.
Kris Jessett, who was on the Baptized for Life Committee that was planning the rolling library, suggested the church put up a Little Free Library® outside the building, especially with the church and libraries closed because of COVID.
"The first time I saw a Little Free Library was in 2010, when I was walking down East 46th Ave.," she said.
A woman was working in the yard near it, so Kris asked her about it. The woman said it was dedicated to her friend who had been a school librarian.
Kris said she worked as a teenager for 25 cents per hour in a public library in Duluth, Minn., where she grew up. She has always loved books, so the idea of making books available to anyone who passes by, especially children, appealed to her.
Soon after that she learned that someone in Spokane, Jan Hansen, builds little libraries. Kris contacted her and soon had a little library in her yard.
"That was the first one I had built," Kris said. "A few years later, when my husband, Fred, and I moved, we took the library to our new location, and Jan made some repairs and improvements."
Her suggestion to St. Stephen's caught on and what some call "the little red book box" was built by a member. It now stands in front of the church at 5720 S. Perry with books on spiritual and religious themes. It is available to anyone who stops by.
It's Little Free Library #109,884.
St. Stephen's is not the only congregation in the region with a little library.
Central Lutheran has had a little library outside their building at 512 S. Bernard for many years. Its old wooden number plate says it is #14,061. Newer number plates are metal.
The little library at Central Lutheran was built and is stocked by church members and friends as a resource for the neighborhood. It's a take-one-leave-one lending library used daily by local residents and nearby business employees.
It's part of the church's services to the neighborhood, along with their summer parking lot barbecues and the "doggie station" on their lawn, because they have the only grassy area in that part of town.
Earlier this year, they began putting food in it instead of books. Now it contains both.
Northwood Presbyterian has one by the steps in its front courtyard at 6721 N. Monroe.
St. Luke's Episcopal at 501 E. Wallace in Coeur d'Alene has had one for more than five years. Members have considered converting it to use for food if necessary. Inside, the church also has a library of spiritual books. The American Association of University Women maintains it.
Pilgrim Lutheran Church at 2733 W. Northwest Blvd. has Little Library #65,191 in front of its building. They have two boxes, and one now has food items in it.
A search of the Little Free Library website found a few other libraries in the region:
First Presbyterian Church at 417 N. Fourth Ave. in Sandpoint, Idaho, located its Little Free Library in its Community Peace Garden, built in the style of Noah's Ark. It includes a wide selection of books for all ages.
Greenhouse Community Center and Food Bank at 22 Fir Ave. in Deer Park has one of six the Deer Park Rotary Club has installed in the community.
All Saints Episcopal Church at 1322 Kimball Ave. in Richland hosts a little library for readers of all ages on its grounds, maintained for community use as are its playground, open yard and walking labyrinth, as an expression of its desire to "love our neighbors."
There are at least 126 little libraries in the Spokane area registered with the Little Free Library® website, and many more in outlying communities.
Many are "chartered" by private individuals beside their homes.
There are also a number of little book boxes in this area that are not connected to the organization, including one outside the Odyssey Youth Center at 1121 S. Perry.
Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that promotes neighborhood book exchanges, usually through public bookcases. It is based in Hudson, Wis.
By now, there are likely more than 110,000 public book exchanges in 91 countries registered with the organization and branded as Little Free Libraries. Millions of books are exchanged each year via these libraries.
The purpose is to increase access to books for readers of all ages, interests and backgrounds.
The littlefreelibrary.org website offers a map for people to search by city and state to find little libraries nearby. It also offers plans for building different models of libraries, which can be purchased or built, and offers discounted books.
For information, visit littlefreelibrary.org, email Jan Hansen or visit the website: littlelibrarybuilder.com.
For information on churches, email email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, March, 2021