I am not sure if this post fits into the theme of the month, but I think it effectively combines the 21st century and the Civil War. At least it does in our front yard. We have a Little Free Library.
We added it to our yard last summer and have a great deal of fun with it. For those of you who do not know, LFL is a nonprofit that encourages neighborhood book exchanges in the form of a small, public bookcase. It began in 2009 and is based–of course it is!–in Hudson, Wisconsin. The idea spread, was incorporated and, as of August 2019, there are over 90,000 libraries in over ninety-one countries. Including our front yard.
I wanted one for a long time and finally received one for Christmas, albeit six months early. I carefully painted it to match the house, even adding violets around the edges. A hole was dug, cement poured, a post installed, and, finally, the box was up. Now to fill it with beautiful books to share with my neighbors and their families. AH! But there was/is a problem…the books.
One of my resolutions was to clean out my office. It is filled with books about the Civil War. They spill out of shelves and cardboard boxes. They stack in the corners, they get lost so I reorder them and then they double–sometimes triple. All Civil War–all the time. I have facts, I have fiction, I have maps, art, letters, toys. I have old books, new books, Union books, Confederate books. I have biographies of Great Men and a few of some that were not so great. I have common soldier books, I have books about enslaved people and those who owned them. I have books about women, books about presidents, and a few books about women and presidents.
What to do?? How can I just put all Civil War books in the LFL? Hmmmmm. Maybe I can. So I did. The books sat there for a while, then slowly, people began to take books. The idea is that one person removes a book (or two) and replaces it/them with other books. The replacement books were not Civil War books, so the selection started to even out. I ran across several books about dogs in the Civil War. Those only lasted a few days. Same with the books about Civil War horses. Animal books go quickly, apparently.
The next step was to engage in something called “book bombing.” That is when you take a bunch of your books, find out where the other LFLs are in your area, and go put books in those libraries. That worked out really well. Now we keep a bunch of books in the car and leave them at libraries in Fresno, Sacramento, or wherever else we go.
Finally, I asked for advice on the LFL Facebook page. There are several. When I explained that I had several hundred books concerning the American Civil War that I had determined to get rid of but was not sure that one Little Free Library was going to do the job, the response was immediate. “Send them to me! I’ll pay for postage!” That was an expensive endeavor, but a lot of fun.
And now, Spring will be here soon, and the yard is being freshened up. The political signs are up, as are the narcissus. The LFL has been wiped down, given some new flowers at its base, and has been loaded up with . . . Civil War books. I added some Valentine books here and there to break up the theme, but not too many. We look forward to putting out books about the Irish Brigade for St. Pat’s. Spring campaigning is a future topic. Perhaps my neighbors think I am obsessed, but I heard a couple of teenagers talking out by the LFL yesterday: “There’s lots of Civil War books in there. Even Little Women! It’s totally cool!”
I agree. Totally cool.