When Coronado local Laurie Ruiz de Castilla posted a photo on a Coronado Facebook page of her new Little Free Library, she never expected such a warm response. She captioned the photo, “Come take a book and leave a book. Leave a message in the notebook too,” and then gave her address so everyone could stop by.
Immediately the comments started rolling in. “This makes me so happy!” said one neighbor. Some tagged their friends, encouraging to bring their children, while others asked what kind of books they could contribute to the little library. More than one commenter applauded Laurie’s initiative, including Coronado’s Christina Miller: “Love this. The kids and I talked about doing one and never did. So glad you’re so thoughtful and motivated!”
Laurie only recently learned about the Little Free Library movement. “About a year ago,” she says, “I took my kids to where I grew up in Thousand Oaks.” She drove them past her childhood home and discovered that the current owners had installed a Little Free Library. “My kids loved it!” she said, and she was inspired to start her own in Coronado.
These Little Free Libraries — just two or three shelves, shaped like little houses — are available for purchase on the official website, LittleFreeLibrary.org. But Laurie wanted hers to be more personalized. She found a woman in Texas who makes doghouses and asked her to build a little weatherproof bookcase. “Can you make something that looks like my house?” asked Laurie, and the artist mimicked the Idlewood mountain lodge-style of Laurie’s house.
Laurie registered her Little Free Library on the official website and has one of the charter signs to indicate that she is a member. She also has a stack of bookmarks from the organization for any eager readers. When she gets a chance, she plans to upload a photo of her library onto the Little Free Library map so that people around the country will know where her library is located.
Currently there is a simple handwritten wooden sign under the library explaining, “Take a Book – Leave a Book.” Laurie said she wants to ask her artistic neighbor to make her a more official sign soon, though, making even it more of a community project.
She’s also hoping to add a step stool below the library so that her littlest visitors can step up and pick books out without any trouble.
In their previous home in La Jolla, Laurie’s kids (aged 9, 11, 13, and 16) had a tree house. They loved inviting their friends over to play in the tree house, and they missed that once they moved to Coronado. “I feel like the Little Free Library is similar in some ways,” explained Laurie. When she set up the library, “my girls put books in it that they’re done with. My husband is from Peru, so we even have some Spanish books in here,” including a Spanish language copy of a Fancy Nancy picture book.
She also said her daughters were thrilled to wake up on Saturday morning and see that a kind Coronado local had dropped off two young adult books they had been wanting to read. “They found The Fault in Our Stars and were so excited!” Laurie laughed. She told her daughters, “Get some books you’re done with first!” Her girls found two books they had finished reading, and then traded those into the library.
Laurie has watched a steady stream of people dropping off and taking books since her announcement this past Friday afternoon. “A grandfather even stopped by with his two grandchildren!” she said, “He told me, ‘Thank you so much for doing this! This is wonderful!'”
So far Laurie has the only official Little Free Library in Coronado, but many towns have more than one. “Many Libraries are outdoors,” the website explains, “but yours could be a bookcase in a coffee shop, a wicker basket in an office waiting room or a cute wooden box in the lobby of your apartment building.”
The process is very simple and can cost as little as $34.95, depending on whether or not someone already has a library (an old microwave, a bookcase in an indoor public place, etc.). That cost covers “a Steward’s Packet of support materials and 1 official charter sign and number for your Library. The… charter number allows your Library to be listed on the World Map (along with other benefits!).”
There are currently hundreds of Little Free Libraries on every continent except Antarctica.
Ready-made Little Free Libraries are also available for purchase on the website. There are a variety of styles available, ranging from $175 to $1500 in price, and crafted to look like chalets, bird houses, Amish barns, and even red British phone booths.
For more inspiration, visit LittleFreeLibrary.org or just walk down to 651 Pomona Ave, where Laurie’s little library is open 24/7.
All photos and quotes used with permission.
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