The idea is simple. Build a small structure and place it in a neighborhood for the free exchange of books.
That is the premise behind a Little Free Library, and Waupaca now has its first one.
“The idea is no one knows what you’re taking and putting back. It’s definitely a book lover’s thing,” said Sue Abrahamson, children’s librarian at the Waupaca Area Public Library.
Abrahamson and Parks and Recreation Director Aaron Jenson worked together to create the city’s first Little Free Library.
It is located in Swan Park, between the playground and park shelter.
Little Free Libraries operate on an honor system.
The idea is to take a book and return a book.
“I came across it, and Sue had heard about it, too,” Jenson said of the idea.
Since 2009, more than 5,000 of these libraries have been built in 36 countries.
Little Free Libraries was incorporated as a non profit in 2012, after being founded as a program of Wisconsin Partners for SustainAbility.
Todd Bol and Rick Brooks are the co-founders.
Jenson and Abrahamson began talking about the program last fall.
Josh Peterson, of the Parks Department, built the structure during the winter.
“You can get plans online. We gave Josh the dimensions,” Abrahamson said.
In January, the registration fee of $35 was paid.
“Then, you get to be put on their world map,” she said. “Their (Bol and Brooks) goal was to put up as many as Andrew Carnegie did. He put up 2,510 libraries. We got Charter No. 5,000.”
Waupaca’s Little Free Library went up at Swan Park earlier this month.
“I put 30 books in there the first time,” Abrahamson said. “A couple days later, I put in another 10 and then, the other day, another 15. Every time I’m there, the park’s been very crowded, and people ask about it.”
The Little Free Library holds between 30 and 40 books.
Thus far, the Friends of the Library has provided the starter books, and Abrahamson has included books for adults, teens and children.
“People can donate books themselves,” she said. “I’d like to put field guides in there for birds and wildflowers. People could pick it up, go for a walk and put it back.”
Jenson sees the addition of a Little Free Library in Swan Park as an enhancement to the park.
“That stuff out there is great,” he said. “It brings people with different interests to the park.”
It is the second time in the past year the library and parks department have collaborated on a project.
Last year, a Story Walk was created on a segment of the trail, which runs through the park.
The first Story Walk of this season recently went up.
“When I see stuff, I give it to her (Abrahamson),” Jenson said of project ideas. “Josh (Peterson) does a lot of the work. He makes it possible.”
Learn about Little Free Libraries at www.littlefreelibrary.org and see Waupaca’s on the world map.
Abrahamson and Jenson hope the one built by the city sparks the addition of Little Free Libraries throughout the city.
“I hope it picks up, and people see it and put something up in their neighborhood,” Abrahamson said.