Rotary International is a service organization with many chapters all over the world. Its members are held to a high standard of “service above self” and are expected to attend meetings regularly.
However, life gets in the way of nearly everyone, and when members find themselves unable to get to a local meeting, they also have an option to make up the meeting online. Members are required to spend at least a half-hour on the site, during which they can view interesting videos or read articles posted by other members.
It was during one of these makeup sessions that I came across a really cool idea called “Little Free Libraries.”
As one participant put it when describing what Little Free Libraries are, “You take a sturdy, waterproof small structure —which you buy, build or repurpose — fill it with books, set it up outside, add a sign (”take a book, leave a book” is popular) and watch what happens.”
Todd Bol and Rick Brooks are the founders of this non-profit enterprise. In 2009, while exploring the benefits of green practices in small businesses, they met and realized that they shared a commitment to service and the quality of community life around the world.
Community life is what participants refer to most when talking about their own Little Free Libraries. They know that promoting literacy is an important aspect of what they do, but the resounding message is that people are meeting people on the street, talking, smiling, and sharing information about what they’ve read. They’re also fostering, in this age of instant communication and instant gratification, the love of books that seemed at one time as if it might be lost. The heft of a book, the feel of turning pages, the smell of paper, even that bit of attic aroma not available on a Kindle or Nook are once again providing at least some of the joy in people’s reading experiences.