If you drive by the York Friends Meetinghouse often, you might have noticed a new addition to the gardens on the building’s right-hand side. About the size of a large birdhouse, it houses a few dozen books for readers from early elementary school all the way through adults.
How do you borrow a book? Just unlatch the unlocked glass door and take one home. When you’re finished, bring it back — or leave a different title in its place.
Welcome to a Little Free Library.
Begun in 2009 in Wisconsin, the nonprofit aims “to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide,” all the while building a sense of community.
In the fall of 2012, when West Manchester Township resident Pat Long saw a Little Free Library during a trip to Wisconsin, she decided to bring the idea to York. On June 8, York became host to the 5983rd Little Free Library worldwide. (See others in southcentral Pennsylvania on a map.)
“It’s basically just an idea that was started by some people who thought it would be a community-building thing to put up these little boxes and have people share books,” Long said.
Since the meetinghouse gets more foot traffic than her home, Long, a Friends Meetinghouse member, asked to install the library there. She opted for the pre-assembled library for sale through littlefreelibrary.org, although more handy folks can make their own, Long said.
As a volunteer at the Red Land Community Library, Long used some of the unsold items from a recent used book sale to stock the nook. She also set up a box inside the meetinghouse where members can donate books. But Long hopes the library stands on its own as people borrow and return books.
“Hopefully it will be self sufficient and self sustaining,” she said. “Maybe other people in the city will put up their own.”