It was with great delight that I read an acquaintance’s facebook post last night, announcing that our little town now has its very own Little Free Library. She had driven past the unveiling ceremony on her way home; the library box is set up in the nearest park, in between the post office and a mechanic’s.
As much as I love the idea of little free libraries in and of themselves, I’m especially glad to see one in this town. We’re in the rust belt, the industry around which the town was built died off several decades ago, and things are both depressed and depressing. From a height of 20,000+, the population has fallen to about 7,000. There is a lot of negative thinking from long-term residents, and many attempts to open new businesses or otherwise improve things are met with gloomy prophecies of failure.
Now, I understand that I’m a newcomer — and transient — and that I can’t personally compare things now with the town’s heyday (c. 1960s-70s). But actually, things don’t seem that bad to me. We like it here. The town has some problems, but where doesn’t? We love that there is still a front-porch culture here. We love how friendly people are on the street. Overall this is a pleasant place to live and we’ve enjoyed seeing little hints of how it can become something more: a new ice cream shop, a fantastic hyper-local news site, a hotel, etc. Things are happening.
The little free library box, to me, is a sign of hope for this little town. It’s a sweet little something that says hey, we’re here, and we’re a community. Anselm and I went over to see it before lunch today; I picked up one book and dropped off two others, and I suspect that we will make many trips over the next year.
(What did I pick? The Thirteenth Tale, which I have read before but don’t remember at all except for the fact that I liked it. Unfortunately I did not notice that, annoyingly, this copy happens to be a large-print edition, so it will definitely be going back to the library box once finished, because I won’t own this sort of book until I have to.)
See? Isn’t that annoying? I don’t like reading large-print books because it’s hard to get a good flow going; the size of the print constantly draws my attention out of the story. On the other hand, I will admit that it’s hard not to feel like the Queen of Reading when you’re turning the page every 23 seconds. So, trade-offs.
At any rate, the thought of our new little library makes me quite cheerful, and I do hope that people embrace it. Onward and upward, little town, onward and upward.