Survival of a Civilization: a Worldwide Reading Revolution

Survival of a Civilization: a Worldwide Reading Revolution

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FROM THE PAGES OF FLL#35

Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 describes a world where it was illegal for its citizens to own or read books. Bradbury’s novel predicted that if books were destroyed, so too was civilization. A pretty bleak prediction.

As you can imagine, Bradbury was a huge supporter of libraries, stating, “Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.” Yet another bleak forecast.

Clearly, literacy and libraries are invaluable—dare I say essential—to society. Yet, with libraries currently struggling and underfunded, one Wisconsin man took it upon himself to find a solution: Little Free Library (LFL). In 2009, Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin built a tiny replica of a schoolhouse which he placed on his front lawn filled with books for people to borrow. His tiny library was a hit and has grown to become a worldwide movement with over 25,000 Little Free Libraries.

Anyone can steward a library. Just build a stand to hold the books, fill it, and set it out where people can access it. The LFL website offers kits to build your library, or you can create your own. An Amishman in Wisconsin used old barn boards to build hundreds of libraries. A woman in Georgia used an old newspaper dispenser. Carolyn Hoy, of Lititz, has one that her son made out of spare wood and an old stereo-cabinet door. “I am hoping to get some local art students to paint reading quotes and other artwork on the sides,” she says.

Carolyn Hoy isn’t the only Lancaster County dweller with an LFL. There are four libraries in Lancaster: one in Lititz, one in Marietta, one in Strasburg, and one in New Holland. Can’t find one close to you? Start your own!

SampleLFLLittle Free Libraries says their two main goals are to promote literacy and the love of reading, and to build community. When asked about her reason for starting her Little Free Library, Carolyn states, “I thought that Lititz, ‘the coolest small town in America,’ needed a little free library.” She adds, “Literacy is cool.”

Literacy is cool. So are libraries. Especially when there are no sign-out slips, no due dates, and no late fees. Just take a book; just leave a book. It’s that simple. Carolyn adds, “I am meeting some new friends, both young and old, and I have kept my front flower bed weeded!” And, with Little Free Libraries on the rise, it seems our future is looking pretty bright after all.

If you’re interested in starting your own Little Free Library, check out their website: www.littlefreelibrary.org

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