Little Free Library
"One of our missions is to give books to anyone who needs a book," Kirsten Hess, proprietor of Let's Play Books, Emmaus, said.
And the mission is being realized in part thanks to the little free library on the front porch at the bookstore.
Built by Ken Burton, a woodwork artist, and his students at Boyertown Senior High School, the library, one of five made during the 2013-2014 academic year, opened its small doors earlier this year.
And the little free library is one of two now in Emmaus.
Cawley Waters proposed a little library for Faith Presbyterian Church, North Second and Cherokee streets, his home church, as his Eagle Scout project.
Modeled on the church sanctuary, the library features titles donated by Waters from his own collection as well as books donated by church members.
"I liked it so I put it into action," Waters said of the idea for a little library. Waters knew he wanted to do something similar at his church. "I knew it would be a good project."
Waters wrote a formal proposal and made a presentation to Minsi Trails Council, the regional division of Boy Scouts of America.
Waters also presented the project to the buildings and grounds committee at the church because of the library's location on church grounds.
Waters used a specially treated wood to ensure the library would be "completely weatherproof."
The library at Let's Play Books is sheltered by the front porch and the little structure has become quite popular with readers. For example, earlier this summer a family en route to Vermont detoured to make a stop in Emmaus to see the little library at the store, Hess said. Hess registered the library on the website LittleFree- Library.org where visitors are encouraged to seek out little free libraries in their town and beyond.
The little library at the book shop started as a box of books, Hess explained. She always wanted to make books available to as many people as possible. Shoppers and visitors were encouraged to take a book.
Inventory came from donations by Hess and her friends. Children began donating their own books. And then surprises started appearing. Brand-new hardcover editions of Caldecott and Newbery medal winners, among the highest honors in children's literature, were found tucked among used copies of classic titles such as Roald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach."
Books appear on the shelves of the little library after store hours with no fanfare or request for recognition, Hess said.
And, although the philosophy of the little free library movement is "to take a book, return a book," Hess is more thrilled by the idea of visitors taking a book.
"I want one in my house," Hess joked about the library.
The little library at Faith Presbyterian is popular with young readers especially, Waters said.
Waters designed the library with room for large picture books on the bottom shelf so children can easily reach the books. Titles for teen and adults populate the upper shelf.
"Every Sunday I usually check on it," Waters said of the library he built.