After an article in the News & Record about the non-profit organization Little Free Library caught her attention, Town of Elon Downtown Development Administrator Kathleen Patterson thought Elon’s community could use one itself. There are currently two Little Free Libraries located in Elon’s parks, one on campus outside Mooney Building and the other placed next to Pandora’s Pies.
According to Patterson, the Little Free Library organization was created with the intent to build community, inspire readers and expand book access for everyone. Collections include a diverse range of books, from children’s literacy to history textbooks. The choice of what to take from the library is up to the reader.
Sophomore Lauren Mendenhall said the Little Free Library eliminates barriers of certain books from being accessible to the community through the education system.
“I would trade books like Strega Nona because I feel that books like Strega Nona have a big impact,” Mendenhall said. “Right now, Strega Nona is a banned book. And it shouldn’t be. And a library like this doesn’t necessarily have banned books, so it’s a good way for kids to trade and learn more.”
Books can be added to the collection in two ways: through book drives or personal donations. Patterson believes people contributing their own books to the collection creates a closer community bond.
“I go down about once a week just to check in to make sure. I have not had to restock it for the last three weeks, because other people are filling it,” Patterson said. “And they’re filling it with not only kids books, but you’re all seeing books for teens or books for college students, there’s a couple of textbooks in there.”
Little Free Libraries function by an honor code, where anyone may take or share a book. If someone takes a book, they should try to replace it with another one, either in the same library or one nearby.
“There’s nothing stopping anybody that wants to create a Little Free Library and park it somewhere on their property,‘’ Patterson said.
Repurposed birdhouses and newsstands have been positioned across the country in parks and community centers to encourage people to read. As long as a structure can hold a book or two, it can be turned into a Little Free Library, according to Patterson. Though not everyone has access to a structure that could be repurposed, one can be purchased online.
A portion of the sales are donated to the Amish communities who help craft the structures, while the other profits go to supporting the organization’s efforts of expanding their community reach. Mendenhall said she believes the borrowing and giving system of the Little Free Library is beneficial to all communities by having better access to a wide range of books.
“You get to see all the books that are in it,” Mendenhall said. “You get to trade whatever books you want. It’s in places where there’s a high population of people so they can just quickly skim through it and see if there’s anything they’d like.”