Little Free Library movement comes to West Houghton

HOUGHTON – Harriet King is a social networker, and after seeing something about a phenomenon called the Little Free Library on Facebook, she decided to look into it further.

King said she went to the Little Free Library website and that spurred her into getting involved.

“It’s a big, worldwide movement,” she said. “I looked at the website and it seemed like a smart way to build literacy.”

King said the Little Free Library involves people constructing little shelters, which can hold one or two dozen books, depending on their size.

“Anyone can leave a book, anyone can take a book,” she said.

Although some people make shelters of their own design, King said she bought one from the Little Free Library website.

“They’re all different,” she said of the variety of shelter designs.

In the Upper Peninsula, there are other Little Free Libraries in Marquette and Menominee.

According to the Little Free Library website, the concept was initiated in 2009 by Hudson, Wis. resident Todd Bol, who built a model of a one-room schoolhouse in honor of his teacher mother, who was an avid reader. Also according to the Little Free Library website, the mission of the movement is to have 2,510 shelters built, which is the number of public libraries industrialist Andrew Carnegie endowed. That number was reached in 2012. King’s library is No. 8,852. It’s estimated by the organization there will be 10,000 to 12,000 Little Free Libraries around the world by the beginning of 2014. Another goal of the movement is to build community by getting neighbors involved with constructing and using the Little Free Libraries.

That community involvement worked well for her effort, King said, with four children and four adults helping out in various ways.

“People responded very favorably,” she said.

King said she decorated and installed her shelter with the help of some neighbors and friends, including siblings Ethel, Heidi and Sam Karinen, and their mother, Lisa. Lucia Archimede, Judy Foster and Bob Drake helped out, also. It was installed in front of her house at 420 Jacker St. in Houghton on Oct. 27.

Her library is set at a height most children can reach, King said. Since children do have access to it, she asks people who want to leave books to make certain they aren’t too explicit.

King said the first significant use her Little Free Library received was during Halloween, when she told those who stopped at her house to take a look at what she had to offer.

She expects to be involved with the Little Free Library indefinitely, King said.

“I was telling the Trick or Treaters it will be up for years,” she said.