Eastwood Little Free Library
Our Eastwood Little Free Library had its Grand Opening on April 6, 2013. In the first three months, more than 600 books have been borrowed. We really love the Little Free Library so much that we decided to get another one. On September 6, 2013, we opened the Eastwood KIDS Little Free Library. By then, the five-month anniversary of the Little Free Library, more than 900 books had been borrowed. About 300 had been returned, with the others finding new loving homes. With two libraries, we can offer more choices for the adults and the children who stop by.
By November 6, our seven-month anniversary, 1286 books had found new homes. By our one-year anniversary, just over 2000 books had been borrowed.
By 2015, more than 5000 books had been borrowed. The libraries have become part of the neighborhood landscape.
In 2016, we added another “Little Free” to our yard. This time, it’s a Little Free Pantry. We have a lot of food insecurity in our neighborhood. The pantry is a very important place to the people who need it. We fill it up 2 or 3 times a day because everything we put out is taken by people who need it. Talking to the people who use the pantry reaffirms the need for it, every day.
The Houston Chronicle ran an article by Kate Morris about Little Free Library, featuring our Eastwood Little Free Library.
April 27, 2014Outside of a quaint home on Rusk in Eastwood are what appear to be two oversized birdhouses stuffed with books – these are Little Free Libraries.This fairly new concept-turned-nonprofit corporation based in Wisconsin is blossoming in Houston, which is now home to at least 24 of the book depots.
“It’s really convenient for us,” said Julie O’Sullivan, who visits the Eastwood Little Free Library in the East End. “It’s easier for me to come here rather than going to a regular library or a bigger library with my son.”
O’Sullivan discovered the library a few blocks from her house through Facebook. She and her 2-year-old son, Ivan, stop by several times a week.
After Ivan returned his old book, he happily walked back home with a new book about tigers.
The Eastwood location popped up a year ago after Jac Brennan’s friend told her about the movement. Initially she posted only one in her front yard, but in September she put up a second, shorter library after she noticed children struggling to reach the books.
“When we had our opening, we had an event and all of the neighbors were wondering who I thought would use it and I didn’t know,” said Brennan, 62, and a mother of 9. “My husband guessed maybe one or two people would stop by a week.”
Just in one day this week, 13 books were taken, she said.
“That’s kind of how it is – it’s a rare day that no books go,” she said. “We’ve probably had four or five days in the last year where no book is taken and those are usually terrible weather days.”
Shortly after the O’Sullivans left, another family stopped by, and two eager boys raced to the library.
“I love that my kids skip and jump and get excited to go to the little library,” said Judith Cruz, as her sons Benjamin, 4, and Javier, 6, dug through the books. “It just fosters that love of reading and excitement.”
Nearly every day
The Cruz family visits nearly every day.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “We have a library kind of walking distance from our house, it’s about a mile from here, but this is wonderful because the kids can just on a daily basis pick books.”
Her sons each pushed an old book back into the shelf and rummaged to find something new to read. After finding two that they hadn’t read, the boys and their mom returned to their house down the street.
Fewer than 4 miles away is another little free library at 6644 Lindy. This one, simply known as, “Little Free Library 4918,” is New Orleans-themed.
Sally Harris, who maintains the library, found out about the initiative while surfing the web.
“It was the coolest idea and thought, ‘Idlewood needs one of these,’ ” she said. “I was going to put one at the park down the street, but Parks and Recreation was not really going for it so I just put it in my front yard.”
Harris’ library gets roughly four visits per week, a number she’s happy with because ultimately she says her goal is to, “Promote literacy and a sense of community in Houston’s East End.”
Little Free Library is a nonprofit corporation with roots from a do-it-yourself project five years ago in Hudson, Wisconsin. It was a small model of a schoolhouse crafted by Todd Bol that was filled with books, all in memory of his mother. On it was a sign that read “free books”.
“I never thought I’d build two, or 15,000,” Bol said. “I just built it for mom and put books out there that mom had and mostly gave out.”
The rest he describes as serendipitous. “It’s like you’re building something in the basement, a craft for the house, you never envision that it will become a world movement,” he said.
The idea caught on and his neighbors began requesting their own. By 2010 the name “Little Free Library” was given to the project, and in 2012 they became official in the eyes of the state and gained tax exemption.
Now, Little Free Libraries can be found in 56 countries.
“The basic idea is to get books in the hands of kids wherever they need be,” Bol said. “A big part of what Little Free Library is about is empowering the neighbors and neighborhoods that reading is critical and essential for all of us, and it’s the most important and the smartest thing we can do for our kids to make sure we have a better generation ahead of us.”
Build your own
To find an area Little Free Library, or to start one, visit the littlefreelibrary.org.