Little Free Libraries are small weatherproof boxes filled with great books. A model one-room schoolhouse placed on a post in a Wisconsin front yard started the world-wide Little Free Library movement aimed at promoting literacy and reading through free book exchanges.
The concept was founded in 2009 with a goal to eventually build 2,510 independent LFL, the number of free libraries built by Andrew Carnegie in the United States. But the project’s popularity escalated quickly. Convenient locations in the United States burgeoned and the project spread to Europe, Australia, Canada, Africa, South America and China. By January 2015, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries in the world was conservatively estimated to be nearly 25,000, with thousands more being built every month.
Stewards of the Little Free Libraries are not paid for their work and must register the location of their library by submitting an application and fee. After a review of the name of the library, zip code, steward’s name and location, a charter number is assigned and entered in the search engine linked to a map at the LFL website and made available on an app for digital devices.
The first location in Montezuma County is named the Little Free Library Mesa Verde Cortez, charter number 29209. It was built by artist/writer Sonja Horoshko (a Free Press contributor), who is also the steward of the small building. It is located on the east side of her property in her parking area near the alley behind the Conoco gas station at 302 West Main Street in Cortez.
“As a journalist familiar with the rich, high-quality authorship in our area, I know our LFL will offer an opportunity to introduce topics and voices of regional interest while providing exchange reading with tourists,” explained Horoshko. “I built the body of the library from up-cycled material I found at the Habitat recycle store here. The roof is a large National Geographic Atlas book cover. The inside and outside of the building surface is covered in dictionary pages, and the bird mounted on the roof is something I brought home from my travels in Egypt long ago. I am very grateful for the support of Paul and Jim Peterson who helped weatherproof the project by contributing the clear coat and Joe Macleran, Ode Chee and Ed Singer who installed the heavy finished library project on the post. It really is sparking a lot of vitality of our community here.”
The inaugural selection includes regional authors former Navajo Nation Poet Laureate Luci Tapahonso, David Feela, Jan Duda Dixon, Art Goodtimes, M. John Fayhee, Esther Belin, B. Frank, Lisa Lenard Cook, Ellen Marie Metrick, Elen Meloy, Leonard Bird, and Renee Podunovich.
Horoshko says the exchanges are always surprising. “Last week the Pueblo Indian Cookbook showed up while the biology book, ‘The Leafcutter Ants,’ by E.O. Wilson, was placed beside ‘Tango: The Art History of Love,’ by Robert Farris Thompson.”
Feela has paid a visit to the crosscultural library. “I couldn’t take a book without contributing,” he said, adding that he was glad to find “A Lilly Lillies,” by Farmington poet, Josey Foo, a new author for him.
The Little Free Library Mesa Verde Cortez Facebook page shows a map with a pin point on the library location. It also previews many of the selections as they are contributed. It can also be found with the following GPS coordinates: 37.349449 -108.5900508
Patrons of Little Free Libraries may also search the map at littelfreelibrary.org with steward’s name, Horoshko; the city, Cortez; or the zip code, 81321.