A local service club has come up with a new way to promote literacy and love of reading by building free book-exchange houses. The concept is simple: Take a book, leave a book.
Rotary Central on Saturday installed the first of its Little Free Libraries, stocked with a variety of books available for borrowing at no charge, in the A.L. Thompson store.
The Little Free Library, styled after traditional Caymanian houses, is a doll house full of books: it sits on a wall by one of the store’s checkout counters, has two shelves and a protective glass door at the back and front for easy access. A sign posted by the little house reads: “Take a book, leave a book” – prompting people who walk past to take a look and grab something to read.
Rotary Central president Larry Tibbetts said, “The project is one of Rotary Central’s drives to keep people engaged in reading, and it makes it easier for exchange of books and expanding the horizons as far as availability of books because it is all free.”
Mr. Tibbetts saw the Little Free Libraries advertised overseas and thought it would be a great idea to have the same concept throughout the Cayman communities.
“Essentially, it is a community movement that began in the U.S. and is now worldwide, which offers free books housed in small containers to members of the local community. They are also referred to as community book exchanges, book trading posts, pop-up libraries, and Noox (Neighborhood bOOk eXchange), amongst other terms,” he said.
Katie Dilbert, Rotary Central vocational director, said, “If you have old books you would like to get rid of, you can go to any of the locations where the little houses will be located and exchange a book. All you need to do is bring a book and take a book. Bring three books, take three books. It is a book swap and all for free.”
To start the library collection, Rotary has placed books donated by club members in the house at AL Thompson’s.
The concept of the houses was the brainchild of Rotarian Jill Langley, and other Rotarians joined in to decorate the houses.
“Our hope is through the whole concept of the “Take a book, leave a book” that people will keep it replenished,” said Ms. Dilbert. She explained that the houses are modeled on traditional Caymanian houses in a bid to Caymanian culture and heritage.
According to Mr. Tibbetts, Rotary Central wants to have the free libraries in other locations, including schools, hospital lobbies and other places that could benefit from them.
The Little Free Libraries concept began with Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin. He built a model one-room schoolhouse filled with free books as a tribute to his mother, a former schoolteacher who loved reading.