By Ginger DeShaney
Rachel and Billy Baker are avid readers. And they are hoping to instill that love of reading in others through their Little Free Library, the first one in South Boston.
“We want people to take books,” Rachel said, noting that she anticipates the Little Free Library will encourage reading, especially in these times when people can’t use the public library as they normally would.
According to its website, Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges.
On Oct. 22, Rachel announced on the Southie Community Bulletin Board Facebook page that her Little Free Library was open at 430 E. 8th St., in her front yard and easily accessible from the sidewalk. The responses have been wonderful, with many people saying they would be dropping off books as well as taking books. Many people thanked Rachel for putting one up in South Boston.
“We’re in business,” Rachel said. “Every couple of days I see more books in it.”
But she’s never actually seen people using the library. She noticed that the Stephen King book, “It,” was in the library, then it was gone, and then it was back.
The Little Free library is actually pretty big, holding up to at least 40 books easily, she said.
The Little Free Library website has plans and blueprints to build your own library; Pinterest has thousands of building ideas; you can reuse other objects as libraries. The Bakers went on Craig’s List and bought a dog house that they converted into a library, replacing the door with a picture frame with glass so people can see inside. They also painted the library to match their house.
Rachel, a special education coordinator for Boston Public Schools, spends her summers in California with her grandsons. “There are Little Free Libraries on every block,” she said.
When Covid-19 hit and the libraries were closed, friends gave Billy books to read. When he was done reading them, he didn’t know what to do with them. The friends didn’t want the books back and libraries are not accepting donations.
Her son in California suggested she start a Little Free Library. So she went to the website, https://littlefreelibrary.org/, and got started.
She registered her library on the website and now has an official charter, with the charter number displayed on the library. The charter gives her placement on the Little Free Library map.
Rachel realizes not many people have yards in South Boston, but encourages others to offer Little Free Libraries, too.