When I heard about a local Little Free Library right here in Murray, KY a couple of weeks ago, I knew I had to tell y’all about it. I met Lauren Smee a few years ago through mutual friends. I’m always glad when our paths cross in our small town because she’s always ready to recommend a good book or podcast and she’s a joy to be around.
Welcome Lauren to the porch today as she shares about her love of books and how her family’s Little Free Library came to be.
“Little Free Library” was a phrase I heard for the first time about three years ago. “What a great idea,” I thought! Who doesn’t want convenient access to free books? You don’t even have to be fully dressed and presentable to grab a book? Sign me up! Flash forward to today and I now have my very own Little Free Library sitting at the edge of our yard just waiting to be discovered.
To explain how important reading and access to books is to me, I have to backtrack. Reading has always been a big part of my life. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are my mom reading and singing to my three siblings and me. We were homeschooled and frequent visitors to the Craighead County (Arkansas) Library. Because my parents were our main educators, they were able to frequently indulge our family’s love of reading. My mom’s story time voice was and is amazing! (She now does this for my own children in story time.) She brought books alive. I remember how I felt when awful Abigayle ran through the streets in “The Innkeeper’s Daughter” and how the strawberries smelled in “The Poky Little Puppy.”
As I got older, I would stay up for hours reading in my bed, long past the time I should have been asleep. Thankfully, I have been able to continue this practice in my adult life.
I remember when I finished graduate school and feeling immense relief that I could now pick up any book I wanted and read without the guilt of not reading a textbook. I prayed my children would love to read as well. So far, my two children who read absolutely love reading and my two non-reading children clamor to be read to!
I am an avid listener of Anne Bogel’s “What Should I Read Next” podcast. It was there I would hear guests talk about Little Free Libraries. Later, I searched Instagram and found these libraries are quite the trend – and one I wanted to be a part of.
Months ago, I had a passing conversation with my cousin Michael (who happens to be quite handy) about these tiny buildings that served such a big purpose. Little did I know that he and his wife started to work on building the library and called me a few months later to say, “We built this! We are going to come this weekend and put it in the ground for you!” I’m so grateful for people that use their God-given talents and bless others with them. While I wanted my own Little Free Library badly, I just was not able to devote the time and mental capacity to bring it to life.
The number one question I am asked is “What are the rules?” There are no rules! No book? No problem! We have had and will have so many donations. My biggest hope is that people continue to use it and tell their neighbors and friends.
Creating access to education and basic needs such as food and a safe neighborhood is everyone’s responsibility and I want to encourage everyone to consider how they can contribute. Maybe it is a freestanding food pantry or a park-based food program. Maybe it is your own Little Free Library. These concepts build community and ask people to look outside of themselves and serve others.
My hope for you is to read. Read to your children. Read to yourself. Read about the world, other cultures, and food. Read about things you disagree with. Allow yourself to have perspective and a level of empathy for others. That does not mean compromising your beliefs. Experience with your family what it feels like to walk through Narnia for the first time, or how Harry Potter felt when he first arrived at Hogwarts, and bring Bible stories to life! Last but not least, visit our library and others, often!
Lauren Smee and her husband Shawn both work in employee wellness and recruitment at Murray State University in Murray, KY. Their four kids range from two to nine years old. As a family, they love to travel and, of course, read!
To make a donation or learn the exact location of this Little Free Library in Murray, Kentucky, email Lauren.