Public or private, libraries are an investment in the neighborhood

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

I love libraries whether they are large or small, public or private, inside or outside.

These little libraries are not only a place to find books (or even a few surprises like school supplies) but they are a public way that a community demonstrates an investment in the neighborhood. This investment, unlike most, has little to do with money.

This is a public forum where books might be the medium, but the real contribution is, as the website of the little free library (https://littlefreelibrary.org/) puts it “Building Community, Sparking Creativity, Inspiring Readers.

Everyone wins when kids and communities value reading. High school completion, job readiness and informed citizenship are all strengthened by a habit of reading.

Charlotte White Mottet Library (IMAGE COURTESY TACOMA PUBLIC LIBRARY)

Charlotte White Mottet Library (IMAGE COURTESY TACOMA PUBLIC LIBRARY)

I support our local “official” libraries, but I also support these little pocket libraries, in fact most of the time I have a box of books in my car and when I see a little library in need of books, I fill it up.

These little community libraries take much more than books of course.

I’ve seen DVDs, VHS tapes and CDs, kids books, magazines and boxes for collecting coupons.

I love these little libraries – they require no account or passwords, no registration or fees – no obligation or membership whatsoever.

Another aspect that I like about these little libraries is that they are a pure gift – nothing need be given or left in return for books or other items given.

In the case of the 98404 Eastside Little Libraries Project, many hands have come together to present this set of gifts to the neighborhood.

And, like many gifts, these little libraries are not always appreciated. Yes, some are vandalized and the contents stolen or damaged, but my hope is that (perhaps eventually) even those immature and destructive responses will mature into a sense of pride and responsibility and that the energy will turn in a productive – instead of destructive – direction.

But these little libraries are a demonstration of the trust and vulnerability that are the basis of any desirable community.

There are dozens of these little libraries across Tacoma and Pierce County (you can see a map of them locally or globally here – https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/).

I have also known of people who have left welcome surprises in some of the books – like dollar bills or passes to events or concerts.

If you have any doubts about how libraries can enrich the life of a community – or an individual – take a look at some of these stories of how libraries have changed lives – https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ariannarebolini/how-public-libraries-make-your-life-better?.

If you are not in the habit of reading, or if reading more is one of your resolutions for the new year, take a look at these strategies for making reading more pleasurable and productive – https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-read-more-265761?.