Birth of a Little Free Library

This is a short, little story about relationships and coincidences.

First the relationships: My son turned 5 on March 16 and my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on March 25. Five and 10 seem like big milestones to me, so I wanted to mark the occasions by doing something well…big.

Now the coincidence: literacy had been on my mind quite a bit. The partial significance of age 5 is that my son will go to kindergarten in the fall. At the same time, Frankfort Independent Schools recently declared a “literacy emergency,” as 70 percent of third graders in this district can’t read at an appropriate grade level.

LFL-Appalachia-2Another relationship: Kentucky Writers’ Day planning was and is still happening at the Kentucky Arts Council. Throughout the month of April I am constantly – and with pleasure – exposed to Kentucky’s remarkable literary tradition. This celebration is also an annual reminder of the special relationship between the writer and reader, which can cross distance, time and any other seemingly insurmountable barrier.

Another coincidence: Little Free Libraries (LFL) were back in local news, as a Lexington-area family’s nationally famous lost library had finally been returned. It was an unexpected happy ending to a story that had already inspired people to create LFLs all over the country.

On a walk down by the Kentucky River – where and when I do my best thinking – it all came together. We should have a commemorative LFL at our house. Although I am sure there are some out there, none currently appear on the LFL map in Frankfort.LFL-Donations-1

We’re creative, but we’re not terribly good with power tools. So we improvised by purchasing a waterproof storage bench. Our house is at the top of the hill, so people may be grateful for being able to sit a spell.

I barely had to ask for books. Donations flooded my office. Yet another coincidence, as people welcomed the excuse to do some spring cleaning. I went all the way to Booneville, Ky., and was greeted immediately (across five counties) with a stack of books.

Our official LFL charter sign should arrive in four weeks from registration, which is – coincidentally – right on Kentucky Writers’ Day. The Gaschmittie Little Free Library is now open.

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