Six months or so ago, our Rotary Club of the Abingtons opened a pocket library on Depot Street in front of the pocket park in Clarks Summit. Since that opening day, a continuous flow of books has come and gone out of the tiny door. You, the readers of our community, stop by, check out the current supply of reading material, and add to the books or remove other books you want to read. In that participation, we all promote literacy, one of Rotary International’s goals.
The Library of Congress took note of the network of small libraries popping up all over the United States and recognized them with the Literary Award for best practices in literacy and reading promotion for 2015. The acting Librarian of Congress, Davis S. Mao, signed the commendation on Oct. 22, 2015.
The award reads, “The Library of Congress hearby commends Little Free Library for its effective implementation of best practices in literacy and reading promotion.”
The Library of Congress sponsors privately-endowed programs that honor achievement in the humanities and creativity. Through these awards and prizes, the world’s greatest repository of human creativity honors those who have advanced and embodied the ideals of individual creativity, conviction, dedication, scholarship and exuberance.
Our Little Free Library is #17238 in this international organization of 32,000 tiny libraries. We are included on the little free library world map, and we are open for business 24 hours a day.
On June 11, 2015, the day our pocket library opened, the very first book that went in was my own family Bible. The book was leather bound and much taller than the other books that quickly filled the shelves. My family Bible took up the room of perhaps four small books and I wondered if it would remain there, taking up so much space. In that first week, as steward of the library, I checked out the pocket library by stopping by almost every day. I could see my big brown Bible still in the library as far away as the road. Other books seemed to be moving but not the Bible. Perhaps people in the community thought that one book was not for exchange. After about a week, I drove by and stopped. My Bible had moved out and I was glad. About a month later, the Bible was returned. I wondered where the book had gone and who had brought it back. On this second entrance, the Bible remained in place for about a week or so and then, again, it was gone.
Books rarely stay a week. In fact, some times the tiny library looks very different in the morning than it does in the afternoon. Authors like Danielle Steele may be right next to Shakespeare on one day and thenm just a day later, neither of their books is there. Children’s books seem to move the quickest, rarely staying more than a few hours. Periodicals show up. Current magazines, like Southern Living and Oprah and Cooking Light, are daily exchanges.
In a recent Little Free Library newsletter, articles are written about the creative ways involved in developing a tiny library. Charter #28276 was started by Kristine Reetz of Louisville, Colorado. She installed a library in a large pot, designed for plants. She attached the pot to a simple wooden platform on wheels, making a moveable library.
The Library of Congress Literacy Awards were established as a program to help support organizations working to alleviate the problems of illiteracy, both in the United States and worldwide. The awards reward organizations, like the Little Free Library, for doing exemplary, innovative and easily replicable work over a sustained period.
Our Rotary Club of the Abingtons is a small part of the international organization that is Rotary. Our pocket library, developed and built by our own Rotarians, is part of the international organization of the Little Free Library. The recognition and the honoring given by the Library of Congress in this Literacy Award bring home to us the value of being able to read. Through these large and powerful organizations, individual people, like you and me, are joined with others around the world, working toward the common goal, to read.