Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996. She is the author of "News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist," winner of a Minnesota Book Award.

Johnny Libraryseed

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel under Libraries Updated: July 28, 2014 - 1:11 PM

Lately, I have taken to driving around with a paper sack full of books in my car--not review books, but old books of mine that have been read and loved but maybe not loved quite enough to keep forever. Over the last few years I've given hundreds of them away---to friends, family, neighbors, Goodwill, to a used-bookstore that puts the value of the books into a fund for teachers so they can come and shop the store for free.

More recently, though, I've been seeding Little Free Libraries.

You know the drill--take a book, leave a book, maybe return a book. My St. Paul neighborhood has these little libraries everywhere; I see them on my dog-walking route and on my way to work, and a couple of weeks ago I noticed one in front of the cafe where I took my mother for lunch. (She scored a David Maraniss book about the 1960 summer Olympics from that one.)

If you're unfamiliar with Little Free Libraries, here's a Strib story from three years ago telling you what they are.

If you're interested in starting a library of your own, here's a nice story from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about 10 things to know beforehand.

And if you still want to know more, watch for my story--I think it will run on Saturday--about Eireann Lorsung, the Coffee House Press poet who is in residence at the Little Free Library on East Lake Street in Minneapolis.

For now, here's a little photo collection of the libraries I've been seeding. Try it! Once I started looking for them, I found more than I had ever noticed before. And I got to know the byways and backstreets of my neighborhood much better. (The library above is in the Churchill garden, which is tended by neighbors.)

This was the first LFL I noticed in my neighborhood. It has a solar panel for an interior light, and a park bench in front of it so you can linger.

This is the first one I noticed in our neighborhood, several years ago. It has a solar panel, which powers the interior light, and a park bench across from it so you can browse in comfort.

This one is seasonal. The bicycle was parked there last summer, too, and then disappeared over the winter.

This one is seasonal. The bicycle was parked there last summer, too, and then disappeared over the winter.

This one was built by Girl Scouts.

This one was built by Girl Scouts.

I love the little frog door-handle on this one.

I love the little frog handle on this one.

This one had a very colorful setting.

This one had a very colorful setting.

This one is in front of the Como Park Cafe, formerly the Java Train. So colorful!

 

I liked the hand prints on this one--presumably of the folks who built it.

 

This one was stocked with children's books.

There are more--one yard had two libraries, a taller one for adults, and a short one for children.  But you get the idea. Check out your own neighborhood.  See what's out there.  I took one book, a YA book I remembered from years ago when I was a YA.  And after I emptied my sack, I went home and read all afternoon.  And then took the YA book and walked down the street and .... you know what I did.

 

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