Forest Parkers have until July 11 to enter a drawing for a chance to take a library home with them. Well, a little library.
The Forest Park Public Library is giving away a Little Free Library – a wooden box on top of a chest-high wooden pole, where anyone can leave and pick up books. Since 2009, the eponymous nonprofit has been encouraging people around the world to build Little Free Libraries in hopes of encouraging reading and making books easily accessible everywhere. This year’s Forest Park Library summer reading program theme is Forest Park Together, and the library felt that giving away something that benefits the community would fit that theme.
Little Free Libraries were a brainchild of Todd Bol, a former teacher and head of an entrepreneurial consulting firm in Hudson, WI. In 2009, when his mother, also a teacher, passed away, he built a wooden container that looked like a one-room schoolhouse out of a wooden garage door and filled it with books as a tribute to her. Bol shared the idea with his partner, Rick Brooks, and they set out to build more Little Libraries, and founded a nonprofit to encourage others to do the same.
The nonprofit, which is till headquartered in Hudson, is aiming to provide “greater, more equitable book access in neighborhoods worldwide” and “strengthen communities and influence literacy outcomes” by putting books where anyone can pick them up.
According to the Little Free Library directory, Forest Park currently has seven little libraries. Some of the listings contain descriptions, revealing a wide variety of reasons why someone decided to put up a Little Library. For example, a Little Library at 914 Circle Ave. was put up by a mother whose four daughters loved reading and wanted to have one on their property. The library at 930 Dunlop Ave. was a tribute to activist Mark Rogovin, who gave tours of the nearby Haymarket Monument in Forest Home Cemetery. The Little Library at 8311 W. Roosevelt Rd. was a gift to former Riveredge Hospital CEO Carey Carlock, and the Little Library at 7708 Monroe St. was put up by the owner of the nearby home-based daycare for the community’s benefit.
Forest Park Library already uses a similar box in front of its building to distribute non-perishable food.
Alicia Hammond, the library’s community engagement manager, said they knew that there might be Forest Parkers who wanted to have a Little Free Library of their own, but didn’t have the expertise or the woodworking skills to make one. By giving away the library, they would not only be helping someone out, but they would be giving a resource to the community – which fit the summer reading program’s theme.
Ironically, the Little Library they are giving away was something that a staff member won in another contest.
The Free Little Library giveaway is only open to Forest Park residents. If they are renters, they must have permission from the owner of the property, and they must also get permission from the village in order to place anything on the public right-of-way. To enter, contestants must submit an online form and give their name, address and write why they want a little library.
Hammond said that the winners would be free to repaint and otherwise decorate their Little Library, if they want to.
“The library’s mission is to provide opportunities that educate, empower and entertain the public,” said Hammond. “We feel that putting an additional Little Free Library into the community will help community members share books and provide access to reading materials.”
• For more information about the contest, visit www.fppl.org/2022/05/01/lfldrawing/
• To find a Little Library near you, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/