There’s a new library in town.
While it isn’t very big, it’s easy to find.
Located inside Raymore’s Little Blessings Preschool at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 1111 Foxwood Dr., it’s called the Little Free Library, and, true to its name, it isn’t much larger than a mailbox.
Tracie Fobes, a Raymore mom and well-known founder of the Penny Pinchin’ Mom blog, was recently selected by Alpha-Bits cereal to be one of 30 community-oriented moms across the United States to receive the small library for their neighborhood.
The small, handcrafted structures are aimed to help communities support and promote literacy.
Fobes’ library project was set up at the preschool earlier this month.
With three young children of her own, 41-year-old Fobes is a strong advocate for reading.
“A good foundation of education comes from a love of reading,” Fobes said. “If your child loves to read, it seems that other areas of school work come easier. I’ve noticed that with my own kids.”
In its most basic form, the library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share.
“I really want people to use it,” Fobes said. “It’s a free resource.”
Like the Little Free Library that Fobes received, the libraries are typically made of wood, with a roof, a glass door, and a bookshelf stocked with a dozen or two books.
Raymore’s Little Free Library is accessible between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, year round.
Fobes said users will be surprised to find books for both little ones up to material for children with higher reading levels.
And the exchange is simple. If you give a book, you get a book.
Here’s how the library works:
Open the door.
Find a book you want and take it.
Leave a book or two, if you’d like.
And that’s it.
There’s no due dates or late fees. And Fobes said that if you fall in love with the book you borrowed, and want to keep it, you can. No questions asked.
“It’s the same concept of a library without having to drive (there), go through the checkout, plus you can get rid of a few books you don’t want anymore,” Fobes said. “It’s a good way to get rid of that book you’ve read 50 times with your child. Then, it’s new for another kid.”
Fobes said she jumped at the chance to do what she could to help other kids get in touch with reading.
“It doesn’t matter what your level of income or education is, every parent loves getting books for their kids,” she added.
The Little Free Library concept began five years ago when Todd Bol built the original prototype outside his Wisconsin home.
Bol built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard.
His neighbors and friends loved it, so he built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said “Free Books.”
Rick Brooks, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, saw Bol’s do-it-yourself project while they were discussing potential social enterprises.
Together, the two saw opportunities to achieve a wide variety of goals for the common good.
As of January, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries in the world was conservatively estimated to be nearly 15,000.
“Anyone anywhere can find one close to them,” Fobes said. “They’re all over the place.”
The communities of Lee’s Summit and Olathe, Kan. are also home to the special little libraries.
For individuals interested in starting their own book exchange, the structures can be purchased online at http://littlefreelibrary.org.
The website also features a Google map in which people can use to search for other Little Free Libraries across the world.