By JEN COWART
Little Free Libraries are increasingly popping up all over the world, as the community-building spirit of “leave a book, take a book” gains momentum.
Although the story behind the start of each Little Free Library is different, the goal of each is the same – to share the love of books and reading with others.
The first Little Free Library was started in 2009 in Wisconsin by Todd H. Bohl, modeled after a one-room schoolhouse in honor of his mother, who was a teacher. He later turned his idea into a nonprofit organization – found online at littlefreelibrary.org –allowing anyone who starts their own library to register and become part of the movement.
In Cranston, Melissa Ritz, her husband, Frank, and their children, Frankie, Gabriella and Grace, are the newest Little Free Library operators. They have been excitedly welcoming books and guests to their library at 45 Laura Circle.
The library has been a labor of love for those in the neighborhood, and according to Melissa, it is the product of a group effort.
“We have a ton of kids in the circle, and I saw [a Little Free Library] at the zoo, and there’s one over near Waterman School, and I really wanted to have one, but I had to find someone to build it,” she said.
“They’re expensive to buy already built, and I had even thought about having a big neighborhood yard sale to raise money to get one,” she continued. “Then, we had new neighbors move in and they had recently lost their young son. The man was not working at the time and he was doing a lot of projects at home, and I asked him if he’d be able to build this for us and he did. We made the library in honor of his son, and in honor of another little girl in the neighborhood who had passed away also.”
A plaque on the front of the library honors the two young children, and Ritz was sure to have her neighbor place the library in a large, decorative garden barrel so that if it ever needs to be relocated, it can be.
“There is not a lot of drive-through traffic here, so we registered our library on the national site and we have a Facebook page for it so people will know it’s here,” she said. “A lot of people walk through here, and recently a woman told us that now that we have a little free library here, her kids walk with her, too.”
The family recently added a guestbook to their library and have enjoyed checking the messages left inside to see who has visited recently. They’ve also been able to share the abundance of books they first received, heading to other local little free library locations to add some books to their collections.
Frankie, Gabriella and Grace also enjoy checking out some of the new titles that appear on the shelves as well, taking a new book to read and then returning it for others to enjoy afterward.
The Laura Circle Little Free Library is No. 86969 on the national registry and is officially open for business. More information is available on the library’s Facebook Page.