Supporting good reading habits in children is one of the most important gifts we can give. But fostering a love of reading means having ready access to written materials. And for some families, that’s a challenge. All is not lost though. In areas around the world Lending Libraries are springing up as communities look for simple and innovative ways to ensure everyone has access to books.
What is a Lending Library?
Any library that freely allows for books and other media to be lent out and returned. More commonly, Lending Libraries are local, unmanaged small collections of books for a community.
In general, a Lending Library will start from some individuals personal collection of books and willingness to spend a bit of time crafting a box, crate, or cabinet to store the books in. Think something the size of a doll house or large mailbox, only filled with books, CDs, DVDs, and magazines. The library is open 24/7.
You just walk up, grab a book, and go about your day. Ideally, you’ll bring the book back or replace it with another book for someone new to enjoy.
Spreading the Word
In rural and urban areas, getting books into readers hands is the most important step. Lending Libraries span social and economic divides by simply providing a free service that community members (on the whole) are eager to support. Part of the reasoning being that maintaining a Lending Library is very easy. Most folks who contribute need never do anything more than leave a book they loved for someone new to discover.
For such a minimal investment of time, money, and effort, the rewards can be tremendous.
Reading is tied to all manner of developmental and learned skills. Concentration, vocabulary, self-esteem, and critical thinking to name only a few. But without access to reading resources, kids will never have the opportunity to practice and hone their reading skills.
Keeping it Local
Raleigh, North Carolina is home to one well known Lending Library, pictured here:
Located in the heart of downtown Raleigh, Read With Me books, is a children’s bookstore and art space with a beautiful Lending Library just outside their doors. Helping to maintain the Library let’s Read With Me’s owners have a direct and vital impact in the reading culture in Raleigh.
Despite how personal and local a Lending Library is, the movement to create and offer these simple structures is large and international. Organized in part by The Little Free Library, international lending libraries bring local efforts on a global scale. Because no matter where you are, what language you speak, or what nation you hail from, reading is a key to a better life.
The Little Free Library initiative believes in this firmly and so does Lulu Junior. Watch this video from Lulu Junior about Read With Me, including their local lending library: