Story and Photos by JJ Kaplan
Take a stroll along Main Street and you can’t help but admire a cute little library that invites you to stop and take a book. Adorned with colorful banners, shutters, flowers, wallpaper, weathervane, and a token gnome (named Larry the Librarian), you can’t help but take a peek inside. There you will find an assortment of books to read at your leisure. When you are done you can return it, or replace it with another, or keep the book and “give it forward” in some other way down the road. This is just one example of a growing community movement around the United States and in at least 36 countries.
The Little Free Library, 125 North Main Street, is the brainchild of the Gorman family. Prolific readers themselves, Courtney and Scott were inspired by a Little Free Library in Portland, Oregon. They believed that our little community would welcome the concept and decided to display a library in their front yard.
The Gorman’s initially stocked the little library with a variety of quality books with wide appeal. From there, neighbors stop by and take whatever catches their interest. The concept is that when you are finished, you return and bring other books that may appeal to your community. There is never a due date or late fee. The goal is simply to inspire a love of reading, kindness, and community sharing.
The Gorman’s have incorporated the love of reading with their own children. Grey and Ruby, both under age four, are enjoying a home with lots of books and very little television. Instead, Courtney and Scott have instilled the love of reading and adventure in their children, finding immense joy in feeding them with a passion for learning and exploring. Courtney and Scott enjoy taking their children on adventures to various creeks, parks, and picnics, and seek to make every day one of wonderment. Grey and Ruby have become avid people-watchers, as they sit on their front porch bed swing reading their favorite books.
Little Free Library is a movement started by Todd Bol and Nick Brooks in 2009. Their mission is to promote literacy and a love of reading; foster a sense of community and connection; and build more than 2,510 libraries around the world (the number of “real” libraries built by Andrew Carnegie.)
The Give-It-Forward message of The Little Free Library is what really inspires Courtney. She hopes it encourages adults and children alike to do just that, in whatever form speaks to them. If that happens to be more libraries specializing in various subjects such as travel or cooking, all the better. Courtney’s library primarily specializes in heartwarming children’s books. The sky’s the limit when it comes to creating a theme for your own Little Free Library.
In the same spirit of giving, Courtney dreams of participating in a Little Free Farmstand, where all of our village neighbors with home gardens leave surplus vegetables and fruits to share with one another.
Courtney and Scott initially thought creating the Little Free Library was a way to give back to a community that had been so wonderful to them. Today, however, they see it as an even bigger gift to their family as they reap rewards beyond her imagination. She receives little notes of appreciation, new quality books, the joy of seeing others embrace reading and giving, and her children participating in and witnessing it all. Her own life has been warmed by her simple gift of giving that resulted in unexpected blessings.
Perhaps, we could all learn a lesson from the Gormans. Isn’t the act of giving something we all should embrace? What can you offer to your community? It is exciting to think about where we all would be if everyone just gave a little of their talent. Think about it. Then G.I.V.E. it forward.
For more information about Little Free Libraries, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org.