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Little Free Library a model for neighborhood art boxes?

A dollhouse-sized container mounted on a pole in Deering contains 25 books for sharing via a take-one-leave-one model. This small, street-corner resource is a concept ripe with possibilities for artists who like to share.

Why not populate a shared, neighborhood box with art, original music on CD, or homegrown video efforts on DVD?

The concept itself, inspired by the Little Free Library project, is simple – think birdhouse with a flip-up facade containing books or whatever. 

Located at the corner of Concorde and Lawn streets, the structure was built with leftovers from a home-renovation project according to specs available from Little Free Library. (This non-profit is built around selling kits, merchandise and official “Little Library Signs,” which cost “stewards” $40 and puts the registered library on the “official,” searchable website map.)

Of course, one doesn’t need to join the club and get all “official” with a sanctioned sign. Repurposing the concept costs nothing beyond time and wood scraps, and, if the Deering structure is any guide, the take-one-leave-one concept can engage neighbors.

“A lot of people in the neighborhood are checking it out: parents with kids walking to school. Some people walking their dogs at night are checking out the books with flashlights,” says Kristin Jordan, who set up and manages the library, which launched over Memorial Day weekend.

Stocking the box

Quality content would be the key to getting and maintaining interest in any project.

I didn’t have high expectations when I made the trip to Jordan’s library. My experience with free books has been underwhelming. The usual offerings inevitably include 70s-era sociology texts, dangerous diet tomes, and MDOS manuals.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a collection of books that were actually interesting, including “The Glamour of Grammar,” and “The Accidental Tourist.” (No comment on the obligatory “Da Vinci Code,” and “What to Expect: The Toddler Years” threatened to trigger a PTSD episode.)

If I lived in Jordan’s neighborhood I would check out the library. And if that box were filled with 25 small pieces of art or local music, I would definitely take a look.

So, does anyone with rudimentary woodworking skills, a street corner and something to share want to give it a go? Perhaps a launch at a First Friday Art Walk?

Keep us posted if you take the plunge.

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