Sunday, 31 May 2015

Am I really going to read "Green Eggs and Ham" again?

9 Wood Street East, Hamilton, ON
I'm curious by nature. I love looking at old pictures, finding ancient pottery in our flower fields, and turning over rocks just in case there's something hidden underneath. (Actually, I do have a collection of old pottery pieces I've found in our field, and I have a theory that they're from an ancient civilization. My wife thinks they're from the previous homeowner who happened to have dropped a ceramic plate! Sheesh...can't a guy dream?) Back to my curiosity...

So, I'm driving my son to his friend's home in Hamilton, and with two eyes on the road - ok, one and a half - I spot something unique...at least to me. Now, I can't say I'm a globetrotter by any stretch of the imagination, but I have read a lot, and I like to think I pay attention to things that many people view as the visual form of 'white noise. If I haven't seen it, I've at least heard, or read about it. Not quite. Not even close. This so-called white noise that I see is in the shape of an old schoolhouse perched atop a pole. No - it's not a birdhouse or a leftover version of 'The Burning Schoolhouse' of last week's May 2-4 fireworks display; it's a library! It's a mini library - about 2 cubic feet. But, I can't stop. This landmark is bookmarked for memory.

About 3 minutes later, using my fail-safe short term memory, I relocated the 'library on a stick' and decided to stop and have a closer look. It was remarkable...this head scratcher is called "The Little Free Library". Inside this 'library' were about a dozen or so books with a smaller section below containing children's books. On the little window, there was a sign "Take a Book - Return a Book". Brilliant! It was a free resource for the community to share books with one another and encourage reading.

Doing a little web research on the "Little Free Library" opened up a wonderful story of the library's originators and the success story it has become throughout the world. In 2009, with a modest goal of initiating 2,509 mini libraries in the United States, it now boasts of over 25,000 throughout the world. Apparently, there are 2 in Burlington, 2 in Dundas, and 4 in Hamilton - all within a 15 minute drive! Huffington Post, NBC News, and the Saturday Evening Post have all run stories on this remarkable effort.

Since stumbling across this library, and researching its roots, I can't help but think of a question asked on the Little Free Library's website and the answer given,

"Can you imagine a world without books?
​We can’t either, but for many this world exists. They live in book deserts -places where books are difficult to access or afford. In fact in some places there’s only one book for every 300 children. We can all help change this book barren landscape."
 
Book deserts. That's another phrase I've never heard before, and it's uncomfortable. My family has shelves full of books that are collecting dust and haven't seen the light of day in years. Do we really think someone will read them? Not one of them is a collector's item...except for the odd Hardy Boy or Nancy Drew epic cliffhanger! What about the 7 or 8 children's Bibles hidden away? We're 'book rich' and unknowingly hoarding our wealth. (A quick look in a closet confirmed Scotia Bank's claim. We are richer than we think!) We think of helping others with food, clothing and furniture...but not books. That's going to change. I've got some books to give away!

A stumble, a tear and a rainbow

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