Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Our Neighborhood Little Free Library
A while back, our neighbor Marcia (the block watch captain ... I call her "Captain Blockwatch") suggested our block put together a Little Free Library. This is basically a weatherproof box that is publicly accessible, that anyone can put books into and take books out of. It's a way to share books or pass them on in an informal way. Why discard a slightly battered paperback when someone else might enjoy it?
Many of us agreed this was a great idea, and we didn't do anything about it. Because, you know, everyone's busy! The idea resurfaced toward the end of summer, and then I realized that perhaps everyone was just waiting for someone to volunteer a space. I liked the idea of hosting it - it reminds me of my great-some-number-of-great-grandparents Ira and Susan Woodin, who hosted the post office in their cabin, and thus became the founders of Woodinville. So I volunteered our parking strip, and everyone seemed to think that was a fine idea. And we did nothing.
Monday as I walked back from Dan's Marcia greeted me and asked if I'd seen the thing in the paper. The VA Hospital article was uppermost in my mind (since I knew some of the underlying facts and people involved), so I said yes and proceeded to discuss it in general terms, as in, I thought it was great but there was more to do, I knew some of the people in it, and so on. Marcia replied something about it being a good thing to try, or something that I didn't quite follow. Our conversation went on for a several back-and-forths until we realized that we were talking about entirely different subjects.
A friend had told her that Second Use had some old Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper boxes for sale. These would make ideal little libraries. I said I'd go in on one, but we'd have to figure out how to get it home. I got back to my computer and saw that the place closed at six - no time to pick it up and I didn't know that it'd fit in my car anyway. I called them and made a reservation. Then I talked to Dan and we agreed to get it with his truck. This morning we went over there, got the item, and spent maybe a dangerous amount of time looking at the other wonders there. It really a fun place, and not incidentally a place to take something that may have some value but for which you have no use, such as a usable door or doorknobs. Home again, i settled on putting the box next our Narnia lamp. I wanted the opening to face the sidewalk so people could access it safely, and having its back to the big tree helps with the whole visual impact. I seeded it with a few battered books and facebooked the photo. Marcia's spread the word, adding it to the Little Library Database and generally encouraging participation.
This project has just begun. Our neighbor Laura and her son Mateo walked by and discussed painting it. Is it better to leave the box its historic read, or to accept that there are a lot of those about and it's ok to paint over it. We have some talented people on this block (both children and adults) and it might be interesting to see what they come up with. OTOH perhaps in 2049 the Antiques Roadshow would value an original P-I paper box very highly. Maybe we should paint over the original color with something that a future curator can wash off, leaving a surface for artwork that changes with the season. Who knows?
Anyway, it's nice to get started. Our neighborhood is truly awesome!