One month after stepping up to become chairman of the Jonathan Bourne Library trustees, Kathryn G. Tura announced the installation of nine Little Free Library structures to be stationed around town in each village this week.
The idea is to provide residents with the opportunity to read, whether the main library is open or not, and to provide visitors with the opportunity to read, whether they have a library card or not. To participate, the reader is asked only to take a book, return a book and repeat.
The wooden structures hold approximately 30 books and are designed to withstand the weather.
Students from Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School built the small libraries for only the cost of materials and the department of public works will secure each box in each village. Library trustees helped to identify community partners that will help maintain each small structure and the selectmen helped to identify the best locations.
“This has been a real collaborative community outreach effort with a lot of give and take, and we are so pleased it is moving forward. They are adorable and turned out beautifully,” Ms. Tura said.
In June, members of the community were invited to the main library to decorate the Little Free Library for their village.
“We want our village partners to help maintain the Little Free libraries. Decorating them and customizing them to specific types of books helps each village take ownership and become stewards of them and have pride in them,” Ms. Tura said.
“My favorite is a serene beach scene that was decorated by a group of middle school girls on the box destined for Gray Gables. I really like the idea that if I finish the book that I am reading on the beach that I can leave it in the little free library and take a new one,” Ms. Tura said.
Some of the painting designs visitors and residents will see are a lobster buoy, a little red schoolhouse, and elementary paint splattering. Each decorative touch is meant to represent the community of each village. The village of Cataumet has decided to dedicate its Washington Park box to children’s books.
Ms. Tura brought the idea to the library board approximately 16 months ago after visiting her mother on Martha’s Vineyard. Ms. Tura discovered a box in the center of busy summertime Oak Bluffs, placed there expressly for exchanging books. After several questions and answers exchanged with the Martha’s Vineyard Library and a little research on www.littlefreelibrary.org, Ms. Tura and then-library trustees chairman Heather A.M. DiPaolo presented the idea to the rest of the library board and then the town selectmen.
The library trustees have been collecting books ever since the selectmen’s approval in November and are prepared to do the first stocking of the small libraries. The main library has also saved some overstock from its annual book sale to help get the free libraries up and running. From there it will be up to the participants and communities.
After calling around the country to speak with other communities that have built and maintained these convenient book swaps, Ms. Tura had some of her fears that people would dump books at these sites alleviated.
“Book dumping is not a problem for the communities that I have spoken to. People are taking pride in these little libraries and making sure that nice books, in good condition, worth taking home are shared,” Ms. Tura said.
Once established, the small libraries will be registered with Little Free Libraries, an organization devoted to promoting the movement to share books anytime, anyplace. Registering the locations of the structures on its website allows people to track where they can find books all over the world.
“This is a great opportunity for Bourne to be a part of a large national and international library effort. I encourage people to check out the website and to see where in the world they can find a book. Currently in Britain there is a movement to turn their iconic red phone boxes, visible on most street corners, into Little Free libraries. What a great thing to do,” Ms. Tura said.
The best way to participate in the Little Free Library movement is to locate a structure, take a book, read it, and return it or replace it with another. “It is that simple,” Ms. Tura said.
The Little Free Library structures can be found at the Sagamore Beach fire station, Keith Field in South Sagamore, Bournedale Elementary School, Buzzards Bay Park, Monument Beach Marina, the Pocasset ball field on Barlows Landing Road, Washington Park across from the Cataumet post office, the Gray Gables Beach parking lot on Gilder Road and the Bourne Middle School soccer field entrance.