Those of you who follow us on Twitter and Facebook will know that we've had a book-themed plot up our sleeves for a while now - but if you've not heard the news - a Little Free Library is now in situ at Kiosk at the Park! Masterminded by local book enthusiast Rachael Rogan, it's a free community library - on a very small scale. We asked Rachael to tell us about the inspiration behind her idea of bringing the Little Free Library to Bedford, and what plans she had for it:
"When I first read about the Little Free Library movement I felt the surge of excitement normally reserved for the release of the latest Neil Gaiman novel. A friend, knowing of my love for all things book-like, pointed me to the growing number of over-sized birdhouses popping up across the US, housing books for locals to freely take, enjoy, return or exchange. As she said, “It seems like your kind of thing Rach…”. A dollhouse filled with books? What’s not to fall deeply in love with, begin obsessing over and make your latest mission?
On further reading I discovered that, not only was it deeply exciting, but it had a broader mission - to promote four of my favourite things: a sense of community, reading for children, literacy for adults, and libraries. By this stage I was hyperventilating and only dogs could hear me. Of course, the first step, ‘Build a library’, was fairly problematic, given that I have absolutely no skills in the rather necessary areas of carpentry, joinery, making things waterproof…
Luckily, an idea like this seems to attract the interest of other like-minded souls. And when one of those souls, local Handy Man Marc Simpson, happens to be something of a Grand Vizier of Craftsmanship, the result is a thing of beauty worthy of housing Bedford’s favourite books. A random text to local High Priestess of Horticulture (and Gardening Editor at The Guardian) Jane Perrone along the lines of “Oooh, wouldn’t it be cool if the Little Free Library had a green roof??” led to a Marc/Jane collaboration, which led to the creation of a living canopy. And a hesitant, “Do you think The Kiosk would like a Little Free Library..?” to Coffee Overlords Emma Garrett and Nansi Rose, provided it with a loving home.
In fact, from that first over-excited, optimistic moment, the Little Free Library has taken on a life of it’s own. As word has spread the book donations have flooded in – beloved favourites from locals, contributions from authors, even packages from publishers. However, it’s important that the library starts as it means to go on - something created by everyone, for everyone. So when the Library arrives at it’s new home after storytime at The Kiosk at The Park on Monday, it will be empty. We’re inviting you to fill the library with your favourite books in time for the big launch on Saturday 22nd February.
Do you have a book that you go back to again and again? Something you’d like to share with friends - and soon-to-be-friends? Spread the love – become part of the Little Free Library movement! "
Another local bookworm, aged 8, has already got going on that last very important bit - filling the Little Free Library with great books - and has made a list of five of her all-time favourites:
Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf by Catherine Storr
The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers
The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson
Atticus Claw Breaks the Law by Jennifer Gray
Alfie gets in First by Shirley Hughes
We've found that all of these are available second-hand from Amazon Marketplace OR on Ebay, for the princely sum of between 1p and 50p, plus postage. Which is an excellent way to ensure that the Little Free Library stocks great recommendations, if you want to lend your favourite stories without having to donate your own copies.
The Grand Opening (including ceremonious cutting of the ribbon by exciting local Bedford book-celebrity!) of Bedford’s first Little Free Library will take place at 10:30 am on Saturday 22nd February. Please join us for free 'Hungry Caterpillar' cake and try your hand at designing your own bookplate.
And, if you can't wait til the weekend, don't forget, The Library is now in place at The Kiosk at the Park (Russell Park) and the books are already flying in and off the shelves!
We've been collecting some beautiful pictures of Little Free Libraries on Pinterest - have a look at some amazing ones here! Please spread the word that the Little Free Library movement has come to Bedford - and share your books with us!