County Staff Embrace Little Free Libraries

Jennifer Lawson’s Little Free Library in Rancho Penasquitos

Jennifer Lawson’s Little Free Library in Rancho Penasquitos

Little Free Libraries have been popping up in neighborhoods all over the world in recent years. San Diego County has hundreds of them and chances are, you have one near where you live or work.

The neighborhood book exchanges first started ten years ago in Wisconsin and have since spread around the globe. The map on the Little Free Libraries registry lists more than 80,000 Little Free Libraries in 90+ countries around the world.

You might think that the community exchanges may be competition for traditional libraries. Not so, say San Diego County Library staff.

“These Little Free Libraries help traditional libraries by getting books and information in the hands of residents that can’t make it into the library as often as they want,” said Laura Zuckerman, branch manager of the Valley Center Library. “The little libraries promote literacy, strengthen neighborhoods and cultivate generosity.”

Valley Center has three Little Free Libraries that are officially recognized by the Little Free Libraries non-profit and branch staff drop off library calendars, bookmarks and free books to support the neighborhood book exchanges.

Laura Mendez’ Little Free Library in Normal Heights

Laura Mendez’ Little Free Library in Normal Heights

Some San Diego County Library staff take their love of books even further. Laura Mendez, branch manager of the Lemon Grove Library, started her own Little Free Library in her Normal Heights neighborhood. Community members donated a few books to get the exchange started, and Mendez supplemented the collection with items she purchased from Friends of the Library book sales held at the County Library.

“I think it’s a great way to promote literacy,” said Mendez. “People in the neighborhood really seem to like my pop-up library, and many signed the guest book I attached to the box.”

Since property limitations did not allow her to install her book exchange permanently, she assembled a book-filled vintage suitcase. Unfortunately, her pop-up library recently disappeared, but Mendez is already working on building a bigger and better Little Free Library.

“The neighbors have really banded together to help me out and have offered to replace the box and table,” said Mendez. “I’m actually looking into partnering with a nearby park to see if we can build a permanent structure there.”

Liz Vagani’s Little Free Library in Allied Gardens

Liz Vagani’s Little Free Library in Allied Gardens

Mendez is not the only County employee who started her own Little Free Library. There are several other library staff who have installed book exchanges in their neighborhoods.

Do you visit or maintain a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? Send us a picture and include where it is.

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