The Little Free Library movement began in 2009 when Todd Bol built a miniature model schoolhouse, put it on a post in his front yard, filled it with books and put up a sign stating, “Free Books.” It was a way to honor his mom—a former school teacher— and to share his love of reading with his neighborhood. The idea took off, and now there are thousands of Little Free Libraries and thanks to a collaboration between the Stonington Village Improvement Association, Stonington High School and the Library, we have four of these magical structures right here in Stonington, on the East Lawn at Stonington Point, in Mathews Park across from Dodson’s Boatyard, by the Playground out at the Town Dock (this one full of children’s books) and in the quiet oasis that is Wimpfheimer Park behind the Velvet Mill.
It was at the request of the SVIA who supplied the materials that the first two kiosks were built by students of Mr. Beale in shop class at Stonington High School. It was a semester long project that Mr. Beale used as a teaching tool for much more than hammering pieces of wood together! The two most recent ones were generously purchased with SVIA funds and were installed by the Town of Stonington Highway Department. Our friends at the SVIA also help maintain and repair the kiosks as needed – and recently one of our volunteers volunteered her husband to do a small repair! All four are faithfully stewarded by two Library volunteers who restock and refresh the libraries at least twice a week year round. The books are collected here at the Library and the stock of books is kept well supplied by putting requests for donations on Facebook and our website. Each book is stamped with a special stamp to show its place of origin – it says “Little Free Library – Always to share – Never for sale. This book started its journey in Stonington, Connecticut, USA” – and then it gives the registration number by which it is shown on the world map. So this puts us, Stonington Free Library, on the world map!! Anyone can go online at www.littlefreelibrary.org to find where the libraries are anywhere in the world. The comments that are written in the visitor notebooks speak for themselves.
Stonington Library is so thrilled to be a part of this project – it is a beacon of our wish to reach out beyond our walls, to help build community, to share books and foster a love of reading. For all of us involved it has been a wonderful experience in collaboration and continues as a team and community effort.