Library 2.5


Recently I noticed my little free library looking beaten down. Its foundational post was listing, the paint peeling, the glazing on the glass door chipping away. I did nothing about it, because I was contemplating shutting down my library.

Version 2.5 standing straight with a fresh color scheme.

I’ve been hosting this community book repository for about eight years. Mine was one of the first in my town, but now there are dozens of little libraries in the surrounding neighborhoods. This has led to increased competition and a general dilution in the quality and quantity of books appearing in these little libraries, including mine.

It’s been difficult to curate a decent collection when people decide these libraries are their dumping grounds for unwanted books. I’ve had to cull out 20-year-old school textbooks, a circa GE 1985 microwave cookbook, and an instruction manual for assembling an Ikea table. People have left boxes of books on my lawn, such as their entire collection of bodice rippers or a dozen James Patterson novels.

The opposite happens as well. Someone will clear the library of all the decent books—contemporary, well-reviewed novels and classic works of literature (I suspect other library owners, stealing stock for their own shelves). I can’t keep children’s books in stock they disappear so quickly, never to return. I’m starting to run low on books from my own bookcases that I’m willing to give to the library.

But I also have regular and respectful users of my library. I’ve met some of them out front, donating a book to my collection or borrowing one that attracts their attention. We’ve had some great conversations about books and writing.

I didn’t want to turn these readers away, and I didn’t want to give up on the little library concept. Plus I have this annoying competitive gene that makes me want to have a better library than all the other ones popping up. But most of all, I want to continue to promote the pleasure and passion of reading. Is there any greater symbol of freedom and curiosity than a library, where you might find a book on almost any subject and be able to choose and read that book without interference from anyone?

So I decided to launch version 2.5 of my library—not a complete replacement, but a thorough refurbishing. I straightened and repacked the post. I constructed a new support system to keep the library level and sturdy. I selected a new color scheme of purple and green. And I added a few books from my shelves that I admire and think others will too.

The library on Woodridge Road lives on. If you live in the area, stop by, and just like it says on my library’s plaque, “Take a Book – Return a Book.” Just like it says on my library’s plaque.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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