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 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 was built by Girl Scouts.
I love the little frog handle on this one.