Nfld. & Labrador

Little Free Library in Trinity Bay remembers legacy of movement's founder

A self-styled librarian in Green's Harbour says her free community book exchange is all thanks to the vision of one American champion of literacy.

Book exchange in Green's Harbour a popular spot for free reading material

The Greeleys' Little Free Library sits outside their home in Green's Harbour. (Submitted)

Its motto is simple: take a book, share a book.

Now, the Little Free Library movement is taking a moment to pay tribute to its founder, and that includes an outpost in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Todd Bol of Wisconsin, who died Oct. 18, built the first Little Free Library in 2009 in the front yard of his home. He went on to found a non-profit organization of the same name that promotes reading and building community spirit by encouraging DIY libraries in people's front yards.

There are now more than 75,000 registered Little Free Libraries around the world, including one in Trinity Bay.

"He certainly left a legacy behind," said Joann Greeley, who runs a Little Free Library in front of her Green's Harbour home.

"He started it as a memorial to his mother, and it just goes to show, these little steps that you do, and little things that you do, can really effect change in the world."

Inspiration for initiative

Greeley and her husband first heard about Bol on the radio, listening to the same interview in separate cars. After it aired, they both knew they wanted a library of their own.

In the spirit of the movement, which encourages the libraries to be homemade, the two began assembling bits and bobs to become their little literary haven.

"We actually found an old hutch in the garbage, on bulk garbage day in Mount Pearl," said Greeley, adding the other elements came from castoffs around their own house.

"It's pretty much 100 per cent recycled materials."

The finished product is a miniature replica of their own forest green A-frame, plopped just outside their fence on the side of the highway, where there's a roomy area of road shoulder for cars to pull up.

The Greeley's library replicates their own A-frame house. (Submitted)

Popular with patrons

With no public library in their community, Greeley says her Little Free Library supplies a lot of patrons.

"A lot of people in our community are using it," she told CBC Radio's Weekend AM.

"If it's a nice sunny day on a Saturday, Sunday in the summertime, we're seeing about 10 cars a day."

There are few rules around lending or borrowing at their highway-side book exchange. Greeley said even if patrons don't have a book to add to the shelf, they're welcome to browse and borrow.

Greeley said there are, on average, about 200 titles to choose from, with a heavy dose of Harlequins and thrillers. But the crowd favourite is clear: "Everybody loves when we get books about Newfoundland and Newfoundland writers," she said.

It's even become a sort of vocation for Greeley.

"I consider myself to be a librarian, of my little free library. So I love to go out and line up the books, and see what's out there, what's left and what's come back."

The Greeleys' library is one of seven registered Little Free Libraries in the province, which means they're listed on the organization's official website.

With files from Weekend AM

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