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Little Free Libraries Will Allow Residents To Share Books In a New Way

The now international program adopted by the CH-UH Public Library encourages residents to take and leave books — no circulation required.

We're all familiar with the "take a penny, leave a penny" concept.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights is hoping to expand on that idea in a big way.

Over the next few months, the library will install three "Little Free Libraries" where people can share books on the honor system. The rules are simple — if you take a book, donate one to share, or come back and return it, or both.

The books will be stored in a mini house-like structures, created by Silsby Stained Glass and Woodworking. The Cleveland Heights business constructed the approximately 3' by 3' boxes free of charge and used wood, roof tiles and leaded glass.

The hope is that the program promotes reading, literacy and community engagement.

Sam Lapides, Heights Libraries Special Projects Coordinator, brought one of the Little Free Libraries to the regular Cleveland Heights City Council meeting July 2 to show people what they look like.

Council approved an ordinance allowing the library to place the boxes on tree lawns (and other public places) as long as the homeowner and neighbors agree.

The first location is set — a former children's librarian who lives near the offered her tree lawn for the first location.

"She’ll work with Constance Dickerson, branch manager at Noble, to keep the box well stocked with gently used children’s and adult books that have been donated or weeded from our collection," Lapides said in a press release about the program.

But the library has not determined where the other two will go.

Lapides said each Little Free Library could have a theme depending on the neighborhood its in or the time of year.

"We can create programming tie-ins. We can involve the community in new ways," he said.

According to a press release about the program, there are at least five Little Free Libraries in Ohio. The now international program started in Wisconsin and has expanded to at least eight countries and more than 20 states, according to council documents and a map on the Little Free Libraries website.

“Little Free Libraries are a great way to get people excited about books and talking about them at the neighborhood level,” Lapides said. “The people who live in Cleveland Heights and University Heights are passionate about reading and literacy, and also passionate about their neighborhoods, so this project fits in to our community perfectly.”

Look for updates once the Little Free Libraries are installed.

Will you participate in the Little Free Library program? Tell us in the comments.

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Morgan Day July 10, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Wow, this is a really cool idea! Would love to see it in North Canton.
Michelle Simakis (Editor) July 10, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I know! I can't wait to see how it turns out. The boxes haven't been installed yet but I plan to check them out once they are.
Lisa Craig July 10, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Yes, I will definitely participate!
Gretchen Shapiro July 10, 2012 at 02:44 PM
What about University Heights? Can any be placed there? If one can, I could be interested in offering my tree lawn. I am a teacher.
Michelle Simakis (Editor) July 10, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Hi, Gretchen, thanks for reading and for your comment. I think the first one is going in Cleveland Heights because a former children's librarian offered her tree lawn. I would contact the library at 216-932-3600 and ask for Sam Lapides if you are interested in having a Little Free Library in your tree lawn. I'm sure they would be thrilled, as the other two locations have not been set!
Kimberly Shepherd July 11, 2012 at 01:26 AM
What an awesome idea! I really hope that the Little Free Libraries are enjoyed and appreciated. I have fears of vandalism and I pray they are unfounded.
Sam Lapides July 11, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Thank you Michelle for highliting this project! Gretchen, I'm not in this week so let's talk next week about getting a Little Library in UH. Kimberly, I agree...we'll keep an eye on these liitle guys and make repairs if necessary.
Michelle Simakis (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Of course! Thanks for the information last week at the council meeting, and for getting back to readers who had questions here.
Madeline Corchado July 14, 2012 at 12:16 AM
I can proudly share that on the West 82nd Street of Cleveland we have a little free library and the kids really love it!

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