On North Creekwood Avenue sits a homemade little library. Hand-painted on the worn wood are the words “So many books, so little time.” Through this tiny collection of books, neighbors are becoming acquainted with one another through the sharing of stories.
The Little Free Libraries nonprofit organization was founded in 2009 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The organization’s mission is to expand book access to build communities and inspire readers, according to the website.
There are over 150,000 registered Little Free Libraries nationwide, including around 60 to 70 in Northwest Arkansas alone, according to an LFL map. The libraries are organized under numbers that resemble the order of registration.
According to the Little Free Libraries map, there are multiple that are campus-based.
The UA Volunteer Action Center is a steward for one outside the Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food Pantry. Members of the VAC’s Passionate About Literacy program revamped the old Little Free Library for last semester’s “Make a Difference Day.”
Paul Gramling, a P.A.L. intern, shared the program’s reason for their choice to revamp it.
“The food pantry’s motto is ‘Nourishing Bodies and Empowering Minds,’” Gramling said, “so we thought that having a little library with books available would be a good way to complement the pantry’s mission.”
P.A.L. members finished the refurbishment in early March. Since then, the Little Free Library has gained lots of traction with most of the books originally stocked missing, Gramling said.
The UA Pi Beta Phi chapter chartered Little Free Library No. 160,179, located in central Wilson Park. The sorority’s national philanthropy is “Read > Lead > Achieve,” which works to increase literacy rates in the nation. According to the map, Pi Beta Phi chartered the Little Free Library as an additional way to promote literacy in the community.
Although there are many Little Free Libraries around campus, there are also many others in neighborhoods and near landmarks.
On West Ila Street behind the Kappa Delta sorority house is Little Free Library No. 4,181, located outside of a community member’s house.
Many community members in the Fayetteville area have aided Little Free Libraries’ mission.
Taryn Bewley, a law student and former Miss UofA, has donated to many Little Free Libraries across the state. Bewely is from Conway, which is where she first discovered the organization, she said.
Fayetteville resident Beth Stockdell helped put up Little Free Library No. 39,136 in June 2016. The little library is set up outside her house on a heavily trafficked road in Gulley Park, she said.
The Little Free Library used to have to be stocked, but now Stockdell rarely ever has to, she said.
“I more have to take books out because it just gets so full,” Stockdell said. “That’s part of why we have all these books in our garage waiting to go in, but it’s never empty.”
Mount Sequoyah is a popular Fayetteville site that overlooks the city. The viewpoint features an iconic cross, and it is home to Little Free Library No. 68,111. The creators built the little library in the shape of the cross, paying homage to it, as seen on the Little Free Libraries map.
The growth of Little Free Libraries can be seen from the assortment of registration numbers. There are multiple older libraries in the NWA area that were registered in the 200s, as seen on the LFL map.
Just off Dickson Street is Little Free Library No. 227, according to the LFL website. Off North College Avenue is another pioneer, Little Free Library No. 230.
When Stockdell first saw a Little Free Library, she knew she had to have one, she said. She and her husband are avid readers and love the ability to share their passion with their community.
Although she donates books independently as well, Bewley said she likes Little Free Libraries because they are self-started. Seeing one means there is probably a need there for one.
“I honestly just love the community aspect of it,” Bewley said, “and there’s kind of a sense of trustworthiness to them that you don’t see a lot today.”
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