Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Tiny Libraries

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Tiny Libraries

Article excerpt

a program for bringing books to everyone through small woodenboxes springs up arounf Southwest Florida

Need something to read and can't get to a library?

There just may be a tiny library box down the block, or over at the park, stocked with reading material from picture books to the latest bestsellers.

Little Free Libraries, a worldwide program that encourages neighborly sharing of books through the installation of small wooden boxes in neighborhoods, got a big boost in Sarasota County last week when three county departments -- Libraries and Historical Resources; Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources; and Sarasota County UF/ IFAS Extension and Sustainability -- put up Little Free Libraries in five county parks.

Rather than officially checking books out and returning them by a particular date, patrons are encouraged to "take a book, return a book" from the boxes -- and they don't have to return the particular book they took.

"You'll be able to take a book, read it and bring it back, or bring back another one you've read 10 times and have it memorized," said Lynda Becherelli, a naturalist at Urfer Family Park, as the last box was installed near the park pavilion last week.

The project was the brainchild of Lee Hayes Byron, sustainability manager.

"Several of the library staff had been saying for a long time, 'Boy, these are cool, we should do this,'" said Byron.

With an investment of about $2,000 -- and most of that was for shipping, -- Byron ordered five library boxes from the Little Free Libraries website, allowing park managers to choose the style they thought most appropriate to their park. The boxes are stocked with books donated to the Friends of the Library.

Last Thursday, Becherelli loaded Urfer's Little Library with a couple of picture books, "Sharks and Boys" -- "I like it!" -- a Harry Potter book, "Seabiscuit" and "A Field Guide to the Night Sky," among others.

"These are great choices," she said. "Man, we have some great books."

"The hope is that we'll get books in the hands of people who wouldn't have them otherwise, and change the experience of park goers," said Byron, "make it a place they actually come to exchange books, and similarly, that people really into books will get outside. …

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