"The Health of Our Civilization"
[Saturday, April 2, 2016]
What had started out with
a couple of Little Free Libraries
in Edie's yard and the one that
she put in Stone Soup Park
soon expanded from there.
They spilled out into
the neighborhood, then
from North Bottoms into
Lake Bottoms as well.
They trickled along the line
of Sun Valley Boulevard and
into the Haymarket District
where one sprung up at
the Farmers' Market.
Boss Blaster watched
to see how well they were
received by the residents.
And people loved them.
It gave him hope to see that
after the first few weeks of
stripping the box bare, people
began to put back the books
they had read but didn't feel
a need to keep around.
Even the contents varied --
the Sun Valley ones had
more about hiking and biking
the Farmers' Market stocked
books on gardening and cooking,
and the one in Lake Bottoms closest
to the airport had some travel books.
A variety of other versions appeared
too, like the Little Free Pantries
and the Free Seed Library.
It helped that the Finns often
showed up with whole bags
full of books on all topics, but
they paid attention to local tastes.
So there were a handful of books
for black and Hispanic readers
to compensate for Lincoln being
mostly white and not having
much for its citizens of color.
"What do you think of our plan
to fill the neighborhood with
Little Free Libraries?" Edie said
as she watched Boss Blaster
refill the ones in her yard.
"The health of our civilization,
the depth of our awareness about
the underpinnings of our culture
and our concern for the future
can all be tested by how well
we support our libraries,"
Boss Blaster said smoothly.
No sooner had he said that than
one of the neighborhood teens
came along, one hand swinging
a plastic bag full of books.
"I got these from a dumpster at
the mall. The bookstore throws out
what they can't sell," the girl said.
"They're missing the covers, but
who cares? All the pages are there."
"Go ahead," Boss Blaster said,
waving a hand at the library.
The health of his neighborhood
might not be great yet, but
it was getting better.
* * *
"The health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries."
-- Carl Sagan
Little Free Libraries are wonderful things, but local America seems to hate them. Read about them and build your own. These are ubiquitous in T-America. They also make a good barometer for the health of the community, doing well in good neighborhoods and poorly in bad ones.
There are also many variations beyond books. See a free seed library. This one combines books and seeds. Find seed libraries. Little Free Pantry distributes food. Learn how to make a Little Free Pantry. A Givebox can hold anything that fits inside it. Visit the Givebox page on Facebook. There are instructions for building various styles in German and French (upright or cubbyhole). Here are some examples. If you're not crafty, you can make a little free whatever by upcycling a storage device such as a wardrobe, china cabinet, or refrigerator -- the fridge is especially nice outdoors because it seals.