About 75 people gathered outside the Golden Drift Museum in Dutch Flat June 26 to celebrate the first, but certainly not the last Little Free Library to open in Placer County.
The center of attention was a small wooden kiosk located atop a white picket fence in front of the museum. Decorated to match the museum’s décor, the kiosk contained dozens of books people could borrow, and space for people to donate more books others might like to read.
| Fifth District Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery takes a closer look at the Dutch Flat Little Free Library.
On the front, a sign identified the kiosk as a Little Free Library (LFL) and advised anyone who stopped by to “Take a Book, Return a Book.” The sign also notified anyone who might want to know the kiosk’s official charter number is 1880.
The June 26 ceremony was sponsored by the Placer County Library and Literacy Support Council of Placer County.
Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, Dutch Flat’s representative on the Placer County Board of Supervisors, told the crowd she is an avid reader and strong supporter of the Little Free Library movement.
“It brings the community together,” she said. “This is a just a terrific model. It’s community based. It’s community driven.”
She emphasized that Little Free Libraries promote literacy, encourage people to read more often and strengthen community bonds by having neighbors share their favorite books with each other.
In Dutch Flat, people who donate books often put informal reviews and other insights inside so borrowers have a better idea of what they are getting. Neighbors sometimes run into each other when they borrow or donate books, so the tiny library also tends to serve as a community gathering place.
The Dutch Flat kiosk was decorated by Alicia Ericksen, a graduate of Del Oro High School.
The kiosk is part of a grassroots movement that is sweeping the United States and other countries around the world. Little Free Library Ltd., the nonprofit group that pioneered the movement in 2009, estimates there currently are more than 6,000 Little Free Libraries in 36 countries.
LFL kiosks also have been set up at several other Placer County facilities, including the Auburn Justice Center, Juvenile Detention Facility and a Health and Human Services Department facility in North Auburn and the Probation Department’s offices at the county’s Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville.
Supervisor Montgomery said she would like to see a Little Free Library in her hometown of Serene Lakes, and has heard talk that Iowa Hill might get one soon.
“I can see the momentum is building,” President Miriam Chipp of the Literacy Support Council told the gathering.
She noted that members of her group have donated books and the LFL movement in Placer County has drawn support from Friends of the Library groups in Auburn, Colfax and Rocklin. The Literacy Support Council is working with the Auburn Area Recreation and Park District to install LFLs at various locations around Auburn.
“I think the Little Free Library concept is popular in part because people like a good story,” explained county Director of Library Services Mary George. “Where did the box come from? Who decorated it? Who left these books in the box that I took, read, and now love? It’s exciting to open the box and see what’s in there. It’s fun to wonder who’s enjoying a book that you left. It’s all charming, welcoming, and uniquely connects community.”
Stewards typically oversee the operation of LFLs, but the public is encouraged to informally borrow and donate books.
“I’m very pleased by how the community has embraced it,” explained Heidi Johnson, the steward of the Dutch Flat Little Free Library, noting it is not uncommon to spot community members stopping by the kiosk to brush snow away and straighten up books.
She reported that a couple of tourists headed for Reno stopped in Dutch Flat specifically to see its LFL after spotting it on a map created by Little Free Library Ltd.
More information about LFLs is available on the group’s website: LITTLE FREE LIBRARY.