I’m really enjoying the fact that my website has an On This Day feature now. It’s nice to be reminded of interesting things I’ve done or things I’ve bookmarked and meant to read, but haven’t yet had the time. It also makes me want to pull in more data from older services to have a longer timeline for it.
Incidentally, Happy Anniversary to my Little Free Library which is celebrating its third birthday in a new location.
About two years ago, I registered Little Free Library #8424 and a year and three months ago it opened up with a just a few books to serve the Adams Hill neighborhood in Glendale, CA. Along the way during the intervening time, we’ve had almost 500 donated books go through our humble metal doors. In addition to our local library, some of our donated books also go to help seed several dozen similar libraries in surrounding communities, many of which are considered book deserts, meaning that there are few outlets (public libraries, school libraries, or bookstores, etc.) for books or reading available to people in those communities. As a result, and unsurprisingly, the literacy rates in these neighborhoods are not as high as they should be.
A Surprise Invitation
Several weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation from Little Free Library stewards and founders of The Literacy Club, Doug and Jean Chadwick, who said they would be hosting a steward meet-up for people running Little Free Libraries in the Los Angeles area.
Little Free Library & The Literacy Club Presents: An evening with Todd Bol
Come meet Todd and your fellow stewards for an evening of fun! You’ll get to talk Little Libraries and books, enjoy snacks, beer, wine and soft drinks, and swap stories with everyone in attendance.
Part of the motivation for the event was because Todd Bol, co-founder and executive director of the Little Free Library movement was coming to Los Angeles on Thursday, November 3rd.
It seemed like a great excuse to meet some of my fellow library stewards in the area and swap stories, and exchange advice.
Little Free Library #50,000
At the time I didn’t know that Todd was coming out to the West coast from Wisconsin in part to celebrate the unveiling of Little Free Library charter number 50,000 in Santa Ana, California, the day after he met with us. To help put the growth of the movement into perspective, remember that I registered library #8424 about two years ago.
The Literacy Club
As I was to discover when I arrived, Todd came not only to meet several library stewards in the Los Angeles area but to help honor all our efforts. In particular to honor the efforts of the Literacy Club which has helped to set up and run over 50 Little Free Libraries in the Los Angeles area including in hospitals, various neighborhoods, and every police station in the city (except two, which are on their to-do list). They’ve also built and host libraries in Ohio and Wisconsin as well.
I was very impressed with their efforts and even a tad jealous that I hadn’t thought to set up dozens of libraries like this, though trust me, the amount of work involved is no small potatoes–it’s obviously a full time hobby and then some.
As a small comparison, I opened up Little Free Library charter #8424 a year and three months ago, and we’ve had almost 500 books move through our library; the Literacy Club is moving thousands of books a month!
Paul Krekorian, Councilmember of the Second District of the City of Los Angeles, had sent a Certificate of Appreciation to present to The Literacy Club for all of their fantastic work in the city. Our little soiree included a lovely presentation by Field Deputy Sahag Yedalian (who was representing Krekorian’s office) to the Chadwicks for their work on The Literacy Club’s behalf.
After catching my breath, I was a bit sad that the certificate wasn’t made out to the Little Free Library #8424, which is really the true recipient of the honor. While I did do a good bit of work to put the library together and erect it in front of my house, it really is the neighborhood and community that do all of the work in supporting and using our Adams Hill treasure. So I’ll take a moment to say thank you to all my neighbors and friends in and beyond Adams Hill in Glendale for supporting our neighborhood Little Free Library.
Many other LFL stewards in attendance were also presented with certificates of appreciation for their help in seeding book deserts in the surrounding Los Angeles areas.
During the evening it was great hearing some stories and ideas from many in the room. In particular it was nice to hear the story of Little Free Library #1 that Todd built and thereby started the growing movement of book exchanges.
It was also interesting to hear his philosophy of treating the Little Free Library organization as a “reverse franchise” set up. Most franchise operations perfect the concept of their business before spinning it out into thousands of locations. He prefers to have a few interesting ideas to put out into the community, which is likely to be wildly more creative and perfect those ideas or come up with incarnations and offshoots that the small staff at headquarters couldn’t have possibly created. Then, once perfected, headquarters can help disseminate the ideas to everyone and everywhere else. I though this was great advice for non-profit organizations like this.
Also at the party, I also got to meet the President of the Burbank noon Kiwanis Charles Chavoor who was present to show support for The Literacy Club and their efforts. The Kiwanis there are funding a large Little Free Library to be dedicated shortly.
We also got to hear advance news about a major pending announcement for which we were all embargoed until November 14th, so you’ll have to wait until then for more details.
Todd also shared some of his work in growing the Little Free Library movement in Indonesia as well as several partnerships including the U.S. Army which is stewarding a large number of libraries.
Doug Chadwick shared a somewhat heartbreaking story based on his volunteer experience. He said that an unintended consequence and benefit of putting Little Free Libraries into police stations around the city is that police stations are often the site of court mandated child exchanges between divorced parents who don’t always get along or respect each other. At least while waiting during drop offs and pick ups, the children who are caught in the middle are able to sit down and not only read a book or two while they wait, but they can take them home with them as well.
Doug also shared a previous story of receiving the Little Free Library’s “Master Builder Award” and Todd indicated how rare these original Amish planes were to be able to establish such an award.
The Book Room
When I came to the party, I thought it would be a nice gesture to bring a book or two from my own library for the hosts or to swap with some of the other stewards. I noticed that a few other attendees did the same. Our gracious hosts also had the same idea, but, like the Literacy Club with its grand mission, they managed to pull their version off in even grander style.
As I was leaving, I was invited into The Book Room. Now, I’ll preface this with the fact that I’ve been into the offices and stock rooms over more than a dozen nice sized specialty book shops. The book room in the Chadwick’s home handily put most of them to shame. I was immediately surrounded by shelves with hundreds of stacks of books each with a dozen or more copies of the same book all waiting to be pulled off to create restocking boxes for any of the various Little Free Libraries around town that The Literacy Club stewards.
While I often try to have lightly worn or like new books in my library, every book in this room was brand new and sure to make a proud treasure for the thousands of children who were soon to receive them. It’s exactly the kind of room every library steward dreams of having in their own house.
I was thrilled to be sent home with not just one box full of books, but three boxes. Thus Little Free Library #8424 will soon have some new children’s selections, and, much like an early Santa Claus, I’ll be dropping off many books at some of the surrounding LFLs in the Eagle Rock, Glendale, South Pasadena, and Pasadena areas to spread the wealth and cheer and help continue seeding libraries nearby.
In the meanwhile, I’m dreaming about how I might be able to add on an additional room to the house for books…
Thanks again to The Literacy Club and to Doug and Jean Chadwick, who have impossibly edged me out as the #2 most enthusiastic Little Free Library steward after Todd Bol. And thanks again for hosting such a lovely little party to bring us all closer together. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my love for what we’re all doing. I’ll be in touch shortly about volunteering some of my time to The Literacy Club’s efforts.
Thanks also to The Little Free Library organization which provided guests with lots of great items like The Little Free Library book, buttons, book marks and more.
And finally, thanks yet again to all my friends, family, and neighbors who help to support Little Free Library #8424.
A close up of the beautiful header on the certificates of appreciation.
You too can make a donation to The Literacy Club. On the table: bookmarks, pins, and magnets supporting the Little Free Library movement.
Little Free Library enthusiasts swap stories and experiences.
A close up of the text of the certificates
Would you like to help?
You can help in a variety of ways from donating your lightly used books, volunteering your time, starting your own library, or even making a financial contribution. We welcome your help and know that it will help make our communities better one book at a time. After seeing some of the excellent work that The Literacy Club is doing, you could also help support their GoFundMe campaign.