Digital libraries may be the wave of the future, but at least one family in south Charlotte is doing their part to preserve what they love most about reading – the printed book.“I’m a big reader,” said Graham Hamilton. “I like reading from a printed book. I like the look and feel of a book.” Hamilton, his wife Dawn, and daughters Addie, 11, Amelia, 9, Aubrey, 7, and Ava, 4, decided about six months ago to share their passion with their neighbors by putting a Little Free Library “bookshelf” in their front yard. The bookshelf is a decorated wooden box with a glass front door mounted on a poll. The Hamiltons, who live in the Stonehaven subdivision, wanted neighbors and friends to be able to bring a book and take a book anytime they wanted – without having to join anything or pay fees. The Little Free Library, a nonprofit organization located in Hudson, Wis., explains on its website that this is a way for communities all over the world to “promote literacy, love of reading and a sense of community.” Host families, businesses and schools can choose to purchase a prebuilt, decorated bookshelf, or download plans to build one. For a nominal fee you receive a startup kit that includes brochures and bookplates, and an official charter sign. The Hamilton’s bookshelf is number 4639. “I love that their motto is ‘Always a gift, never for sale,’ ” Dawn said. Graham downloaded the plans for the bookshelf so that he and the girls could make a project out of it. Ava was proud that she helped paint the inside and Aubrey “liked learning how to do the screws.” “We hope to encourage people to donate adult fiction and children’s books,” said Dawn. “We may have to put a shelf in the bookshelf to separate the kinds of books.” It’s a work in progress and as stewards, the Hamiltons are taking their library seriously. Dawn says that they decided to place the bookshelf close to the street so that people would feel comfortable using the lending library anonymously, or stop by and chat for a while. They have already had a lot of interest from neighborhood walkers and runners who stop to check out what’s going on. “I like the idea of our house being a home base for our kids and open to our neighbors. We can share reading with everyone,” said Graham. “And the experience we are having with the girls has been great.”The girls have each taken away different experiences from this project, from Addie’s anticipation of an unlimited stream of new books to read to Ava’s first time painting on wood. The girls check the bookshelf every day and know exactly what books have been added or taken away. Addie was particularly excited about “The Chronicles of Narnia” books someone put in the box. The girls are putting bookplates in the back of each book that encourage the reader to make comments. “You can tell everyone what you liked about the book,” Addie said.
Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Little Free Library celebrates community reading in Charlotte
Seven year-old Aubrey Hamilton’s picture of the family’s lending library bookshelf. COURTESY OF AUBREY HAMILTON
From left, Graham Hamilton, 41; Aubrey, 7; Ava, 4; Amelia, 9; Addie, 11; and Dawn, 40, surround the self-serve lending library in their front yard. They hope to encourage sharing the joy of reading with their Stonehaven neighbors. The idea and design is part of Little Free Library, an international nonprofit organization. NANCY THOMPSON
Graham Hamilton, who enjoys doing woodworking, made the lending library box with the help of his four daughters. The box sits close to the street so that it’s easy for friends and neighbors to share books. NANCY THOMPSON
The Hamilton’s library is number 4639, a registered neighborhood book exchange with LittleFreeLibrary.org. NANCY THOMPSON
Learn more: Want to start your own Little Free Library? Visit www.littlefreelibrary.org.