By Paige Nash
Do you have any gently used books laying around that you think someone else may enjoy? Or are you looking to add to your collection at home? There are two places right here in Minden where you can do just that for free. If you visit The Farm of Cultural Crossroads or Turner’s Pond, you will find these things called, “Little Free Libraries,” full of enjoyable books and movies.
Years ago, the previous President of Cultural Crossroads, Chris Broussard, discovered an organization called, “Little Free Libraries.” Together with the help of the Library Director at the time, Beverly Hammett, they were able to bring the concept to Webster Parish and became part of a global book-sharing movement. All 50 states in the U.S. have a LFL along with 7 continents and 112 countries.
Broussard was able to gather the funds and hired Brian Carlisle, a long-time board member, to construct the libraries that would be placed at the Farm and a location in Springhill. Unfortunately, the location in Springhill is no longer in place due to it being vandalized.
“Through Cultural Crossroads, I was able to author the grant and administer it,” said Broussard. “When I was able to get the money, I went to Mrs. Beverly for the books. I told her the idea was to take a book and leave a book, but I knew that many of the children who would be utilizing the libraries wouldn’t have a book to leave.”
With the group effort of these two and the former Children’s Department Head, Jennifer Heard, they came up with the solution that the Webster Parish Library would help keep the locations stocked.
The materials that are stocked in the libraries are books or DVDs that are withdrawn from the Webster Parish Library’s general collection that are no longer in circulation and are still in good condition.
“I made sure they were filled regularly with children’s books because that was the agreement from the start,” said Heard. “It was just the right thing to do for the kids. They loved being able to go visit and pick out new materials to read.”
The sole purpose of the LFL is to help build community and book access for everyone, particularly those in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
“Studies show that the more books in or near the home, the more likely a child will learn and love to read,” said Kim Sentell, Marketing Director, and Community Liaison for Webster Parish Library System. “We learned that it’s not just the content of books that matter, but also the memories and thoughts that the materials generate.”
This is a non-profit organization that is completely volunteer led, which means anyone can start one. The LFL located at Turner’s Pond was built and installed by the members of nearby Lakeview United Methodist Church.
You can purchase the building materials on the “Little Free Library” website or create your own.
People across the globe have gotten highly creative with their libraries. Building them inside tree trunks, old telephone booths and canoes. They can be made to look like anything from a dog, lighthouse, robot and everything in between. All the organizations ask is that you be sure to register it, so that everyone that would like to, can find your library on their “Little Free Library World Map” that you can access online or through their mobile app.
Brandi Cade, Executive Director at the Farm says she can often hear families stopping by the LFL there while she is working. “Sometimes they will sit there on the benches and read, and it’s so sweet,” Cade said, “I’m really glad that it has been utilized so well throughout the years.”
You do not need to leave a book to take one, but maybe the next time you find yourself around one of the “Little Free Libraries” you can leave a book or two that way the library stays full of great stories to be shared with others in your community.