In Lancaster’s west end neighborhood, known as Chestnut Hill, many locals and passers-through may recognize the purple and green painted, “secret garden” that is 447 West Chestnut street. They’ve got a sign on their front gate that actually reads “secret garden”. The house is beautiful, unique, and full of green ivy and flowers. Around a tree on the sidewalk out front they’re growing a “community garden” where anyone can grab fresh lettuce, sprouts, and green-onions.
This spring, the residents have begun doing a similar thing with books.
The green and purple miniature of the house, which sits atop a post in the front of the yard, is not a mansion for birds; it’s a tiny library. When the white door is pulled open, one discovers a shelf full of novels. This is a “take a book, leave a book” library, where readers can find about ten titles waiting. Based on a sort of social honor system, the library acts as a free transaction between members of the community.
A sign that hangs from the bottom of the structure reads “Little Free Library”. Googling these terms, one is brought to a website that encourages citizens to create their own free libraries. The site also has a wealth of resources and advice for the best way to build (or the best place to buy) your own structure for housing books. Their motto is simple and positive: “Celebrating Healthier Neighborhoods”.
So, if you’re in the neighborhood, and you have an extra copy of a favorite book, drop it off on the 400 block of Chestnut street. This is a positive and unique way to share your favorite lit with your community. And, if you aren’t in the neighborhood, try stocking your own little front-porch library with a couple of books and see what happens.