The next time you are in the neighborhood of Culver School, stop and check out the “little free library.” Located outside the school near the main entrance, the mini-library is open to everyone 24/7 and there are never any late fees.
Culver has joined a growing list -- more than 100,000 worldwide at latest count -- of individuals and organizations that offer the little free libraries. The concept is simple: a small weather-proof cabinet mounted on a post and stocked with a selection of books.
There are no library cards or check-out desks. Anyone can borrow books from the library, and they don’t have to be returned. By the same token, anyone can donate volumes to the library. As a result, there is a constantly changing selection of titles on display.
Culver principal Erica Smolinski explained, “Our little free library is full of books right now and we hope to keep it that way. Our whole community is involved. Families take books and donate them. If a student has a suggestion, the school will purchase it. Students take quick field trips to the little free library to see what's available.”
The idea started about 10 years ago and there is now an international organization called Little Free Libraries, which offers plans and maintains a map of locations. (You can find Culver School listed as charter number 120744 on this map.)
“It's a beautiful sight to see families come to our little free library, open the door, and discover what's inside,” Smolinski said. “Kids are excited to see books they want to read. Reading books opens the mind, so when they open that door, they are about to discover something wonderful, through reading.”