Ooooh, friends!!!! I’ve been wanting to do this post for ages now, and I’m so excited that TODAY is finally the day!! Do you remember Jessi? She’s a writer/blogger extraordinaire, and we became fast friends when I was her newspaper adviser many, many years ago! These days, she’s hard at work documenting her family history (fun fact: her ancestor Jacob Haish was an early inventor of barbed wire!) and plotting out her first book!! And speaking of books, Jessi is also sharing her love of books in the form of a Little Free Library!!!
Her Little Free Library lives right in her front yard and has gained quite the following, both in the form of people stopping by to grab a good book and other people dropping off books to add to the selection. It’s a beautiful reminder of the power of reading and the community that forms when people say, “Hey, have you read this book yet?” That’s why I was so glad when Jessi said she’d be game for an interview, so read on to learn more about Jessi’s Little Free Library and why reading is so important to her…
Why did you start your Little Free Library? What was the inspiration?
I had heard about the Little Free Library movement and I was patiently waiting to have one until I owned my own home. My husband and I quickly started putting together ideas for our library as soon as we bought our house! I’ve always loved reading, ever since I was a young girl. This seemed like a fun, easy way to trade and share books, while inspiring a younger generation to do the same.
What’s been the most rewarding about the experience?
I love the response from my neighborhood. A neighbor once posted on my library’s Facebook page and let me know that she and her young son had just finished reading a picture book they had borrowed from the library. Once they had finished it, the son told his mother… “let’s go get another one!” That story and that excitement will stick with me forever.
What books are most popular? What types of books do people drop off regularly?
Children’s books, especially the sturdy, durable “board books,” fly off the Little Free Library’s shelves. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of children and retirees, so kids books and adult books come and go fairly often. I’ve had a wide variety of books dropped off at the library, and incredibly generous donations made — I’ve come home to tubs full of donated books sitting on my front stoop.
You’ve always had a passion for books. Why is reading so important to you?
I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember. Even in my teen years, sitting at home reading a book on a Friday night was much more intriguing than going out. That still hasn’t changed. I have fond memories of my mom reading to me when I was younger. Now, my dad and I talk about the books we’ve read. Reading encourages my creative side (I’m a writer!) and it fulfills the lifelong learner in me. It sounds cheesy, but I love to explore new worlds and learn new things. That’s what books can do for you.
What’s your favorite book of all time and why?
“The Outsiders” by SE Hinton has been my favorite book since middle school. I’m not even sure what drew me to that book originally, but I’ve read it dozens of times since. I feel a real connection to the characters (I love character development) and I love the story. It never gets old.
Do you have any tips for people who want to start a Little Free Library of their own?
Actually STARTING the library was the most daunting thing for me — constructing something that could hold books. After that, things really got going! First, find a good location, whether it’s your front yard or a public park. Then, figure out who your “clientele” is — that will determine what kind of books you should keep in stock. Something to consider in your design: if your library specializes in kids books, make sure it can accommodate them. I never truly realized how large some children’s pictures books can be! The Little Free Library’s official website has some tips for starting your own library, too. Most of all, just try it out and have fun! It’s so rewarding when you start to see people congregate at your library. It’s very fulfilling to be a Little Free Library steward.
Thank you for the inspiration, Jessi. Be sure to follow Jessi’s blog Our Midwest Diary, which celebrates all the cool spots she and her husband visit. And, don’t forget to follow her on Twitter and Instagram too! xoxo