The Free Library

The Free Library is up at 1643 Broadway.

People are taking books, magazines and DVD’s.  They are leaving books and magazines and an occasional DVD. So, I am excited and happy. I have wanted to do this for at least two years since I first heard about it but I dawdled.  I checked online for prices. Not so cheap.
This year, Ken said, “Do it.”  We are living  with gratitude. I am still here and pretty healthy for Stage Four Cancer.  Ken hired our great neighbor (who will be moving) Jan to dig the post hole and our grandson, a great guy who is living with us and going to college, made and painted the post. We picked out our library on line.  One summer day Dante, the live-in grandson, and Ken put it up. I was thrilled. I thought we should be dancing in the street.

It’s in the photo above.

I sent out a notice to our neighborhood group and hoped for the best.  These are books after all., not audiobooks, not on a tablet. Would anyone want one?  I waited. I looked out the window the next morning and the little library was there alright, green with a gray roof and a sky-blue post.
Ken came into the bedroom with a cup of tea and said,  “I just saw the greatest thing.  I was heading out to get the paper” ( Another fading icon. But it IS the New York Times.) “and saw a little girl opening the door to the library. She put in a book and took out the Golden Books you had there. She ran to the car where he mom was waiting with blinkers on and calling out what she had. I didn’t want to scare her, so I stayed back”. ( He was wearing his orange robe, a sunhat and pajama bottoms, a site alright!

I took the girl as a good sign.  And it seems to be true.

There are numerous free libraries  in Ann Arbor. For them to work best, they should beon a street with lots of foot traffic. Fortunately, Broadway has lots of foot traffic. What do you find of you look in one?
Well, it’s like of like hunting around at a thrift store. You never know. It changes from week to week.  There is literature, Erdrich, Ondatjee,… murder mysteries, always popular, commercial lit, Ann Tyler, kids lit, and picture books from time to time.

Why do it?

I grew up with a mom who gave meter readers ( which we had then) coffee and home made bread with apple butter.
I was one of seven kids, four uncles and my parents living in a three bedroom- one bath house. I had plenty of people who would stop to listen to what I had to say. ( Being verbal I always had a LOT to say.)  It wasn’t perfect, but it WAS connected. I had no idea when I went off with Ken far from St. Mary’s in a place where I knew almost  no one that I would not have community. How could I know and it would not have made a difference anyway.
I made my choice, likety split.  Only afterward did I realize that Ken and I had different views of what connection is. He is happy with a few people and his science.  He doesn’t need to talk all that much.  (He is a super guy. Don’t get the wrong idea! He brings me tea EVERY morning. I am crazy about this guy who almost never needs to talk that much)

I crave neighborhood.  I love connection.

Free libraries allow for people to stop in front of your house. Maybe you will get to exchange a few words. Maybe the person will just pull a book out and go on.  But it’s opportunity for connection through the books you offer and the chance to stop a while and be part of a group.
So, I put notes on some books, telling people what the book is about. I consider leaving treats, but my Grandson says that’s over-the-top.  I think I am going to do it anyway. Wrapped hard candies maybe, something that will allow people to feel safe eating them and not melt.Hershey Kisses would be best but I have to wait for cooler weather.

So I write a blog.  I have a free library.

I, in the words of Joseph Campbell, learned to let go of the life I imagined ( Did I think a research physicist would find a job in a small factory carbon town.?
Probably. How naïve. Did I think I would live without hassle? ) I am making room for the life I have. Yeah for readers and neighbors and strangers who stop and become neighbors.

Yay for Free libraries. For life.

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