Northeast Tarrant

Tiny libraries expanding literacy, access and fun to readers of all sizes across North Texas

This Little Free Library is one of six the city of Keller has installed this year as part of a nationwide program that has grown steadily since 2009.
This Little Free Library is one of six the city of Keller has installed this year as part of a nationwide program that has grown steadily since 2009. City of Keller

Little Free Libraries proves that there are no spaces too small in which to learn.

And they can be found in more than 100 locations across the Fort Worth area.

Each Little Free Library is simply an enclosed box fixed to a pole. It is essentially a library in its most basic form and costs nothing for visitors to borrow a book or leave one for others to enjoy.

Now the city of Keller has joined Fort Worth and other surrounding cities that have Little Free Libraries, which can be found in communities coast to coast after the program began in 2009.

Staff members with the Keller Public Library and the Keller Parks and Recreation Department brainstormed on ways to work together on projects and programming. This venture seemed like a natural fit, said Rachel Reynolds, the city's public information officer.

"Anyone and everyone is welcome to borrow and/or donate books. We love the idea that this program expands the boundaries of the library beyond our physical building and our open hours," Keller Library Director Jana Prock said. "In a sense, the library is always open with the Little Free Libraries. We know how reading and access to literature is to the community of Keller, and the establishment of these Little Free Libraries reflects that."

All that’s needed to start a Little Free Library is the library itself and a starter set of books. Once the library is set up, new materials are provided by area readers through a “leave a book, take a book” model.

"Projects like these add to the livability of Keller — the joy of living here — and we have a vision of adding more in future years,” Keller Rotary Club President David Martella said.

Keller Recreation Manager Kyle Cooper said the Little Free Libraries help bring communities together.

"Keller’s parks system is well known in this region, so we’re always searching for new amenities, programming or special events to help our residents and visitors make connections to one another and to our parks and trails," Cooper said. "The libraries give people one more reason to stop by, and reading in the parks can help spark conversation and excitement for users of all ages.”

Creating the Little Free Library can also be a lot of fun. Designs vary greatly with the imagination of the creator. Take, for example, Scott Murphey in Arlington, a preservation architect who built his with scraps and leftover lumber to match his house.

"It's rewarding to see people stop in the front yard and brings a sense of community to the neighborhood," he said. "It's also on Google Maps and every now and then, someone shows up thinking it's a real library and not just a small box with books.

"The Little Free Library is something that unites us in a time of division in America and that is what I like about it the most."

Lisa Gaines of Weatherford has two Little Free Libraries. Gaines, an educator, said ensuring the availability of reading material and inspiring a love for reading are at the heart of the project for her. She said after moving to Weatherford three years ago she realized the only library in town was a 20-minute drive for her.

"My neighbor, Jimmy Arnold, was so kind to build it for me," she said. "Now we have a constant stream of visitors. Some people come pulling wagons with small children, older kids come on bikes or walking, and some come by car from farther neighborhoods.

"Just yesterday I received a sweet thank-you note for providing the library from a 10-year old. These gestures really touch my heart in knowing that people love this resource that provides high-quality reading material for children of all ages, and for some moms a nice thing to do with their children."

Gaines also started one in Fort Worth's Stop Six community. She applied for an Impact Library Grant from the national Little Free Library organization and was approved.

"It was installed this past spring break and the children quickly fell in love," Gaines said. "Even if it initially created a novelty of getting a book from the little box outside, it got kids reading more."

Ellen Leuschner in Grapevine created her own Little Free Library out of an old piece of furniture a few years ago. She is in the process of working with a local Girl Scout Troop to design and install one at a neighborhood coffee shop.

"It allows you to read without the due back by dates of a normal library," she said. "It is a way for the girls to give back to the community and learn along the way."

To find out where the nearest Little Free Library is to you, or to learn how to start one of your own, visit their nationwide website at https://littlefreelibrary.org/start/.

  Comments