As Fortnite, Gears of War, television, Pokemon Go and other media frenzies grow in popularity, a pushback is coming from the literary world through elaborate boxes filled with books.
Little Free Libraries have grown in popularity in recent years, with boxes located at businesses, in front of homes or along walking paths throughout Kendall County. A nonprofit organization, Little Free Libraries, works to promote and encourage reading at all ages through book exchanges, especially in areas where a community library is not easily accessible or available.
Oswego resident Lesli Gresholdt and her family built a Little Free Library as a way to get to know their new neighbors after moving to Oswego in 2013..
“I always loved the concept of it, and I would try to find them in the towns that we would visit, and so when we had our own home, it was one of the first projects that I wanted to do,” Gresholdt said.
“I love to read, and I just wanted a way to reach out to the community and get to know my neighbors. People tend to stick to themselves so much, so I thought it was something that could provide amusement and entertainment for the kids, but also to help me know my neighbors.”
The best response, she said, was that she was the first to construct a Little Free Library in Oswego.
“Now there’s five within a mile radius. ... When I started mine in 2014, my charter number is 14,454. Now, five years later, they’re in the 90,000s”, she said.
“I think that as they’ve grown, and they’ve popped up across the country, people have seen the benefits of it. Lots of organizations have placed them on their properties, they’ve been at schools, they’ve been at parks, on walking paths. It’s become kind of a project, and I think that people who are readers just want to share their love of reading with people.”
Gresholdt said that she keeps a stack of books for all ages, to rotate in and out of her library.
“We’ve got people of all ages on our street, so I want to cater to all of them,” Gresholdt said. “I try to rotate them out every month or so, but things just show up and disappear, and I don’t know who brings them and who takes them.
“I very rarely see someone at the library, but things come and go, so I know they’re being used.”
Little Free Libraries, according to the organization’s website, function on the “honor system.” While visitors don’t necessarily have to return the same book that they take from a location, readers are encouraged to donate books in return.
“We rely on buying the books with our own money to get a collection going, or donations from people,” Gresholdt said. “They’re always welcome.”
Information, and a map of the Little Free Libraries in Kendall County and locations across the world, can be found at www.littlefreelibrary.org.