Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Barely Bigger Than a Breadbox, but Teeming With Literary Treasures in Brooklyn
Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
From a distance, it looks as if it could be an unusually large mailbox, or perhaps a doghouse almost three feet off the ground. Tucked under the shade of a tree and bolted into a sidewalk on St. Marks Avenue in Brooklyn, this wood box, 20 by 24 inches, turns heads as neighbors stroll by.
Children are, of course, more willing to explore.
On Monday, the siblings Evan and Elinor Bither, moving by on their scooters, halted to a stop in front of what has quickly become a fixture in Prospect Heights. Evan, 6, turned a wooden latch to open the glass front door.
He had come to New York’s first official Little Free Library.
Evan flipped through the collection: eight novels by Patrick O’Brian, a book by Elie Wiesel and “The Night Remembers” by Kathleen Eagle.
“Why are there only grown-up books in here?” Evan said.
Alas, it is one of the difficulties of a library shared by all. The collection, limited by its compact home and the supply of donations, is ever changing. But many neighbors say the absence of children’s books on Monday was an anomaly.
The Little Free Library, whose slanted roof carries the messages “Saint Marks Children’s Book Stop” and “Take a Book, Return a Book,” was opened at the end of May. Its housing was provided by the national Little Free Library organization, which estimates that there are 2,200 such places, across almost every state and about 30 countries. Each local library pays $25 to register with the group. About 20 percent buy the wood box from the national organization, which can cost a few hundred dollars. The rest, using materials like canoes or ovens, make them for themselves.