When Catherine Morgan moved to Brentwood two years ago, she thought the city needed more accessible books.
At the time, the Brentwood Library was under construction for its expansion, and the only bookstore she could find was Barnes & Noble in Antioch, so she set out to find her own way to bring in more books.
Morgan learned about the Little Free Library, a nonprofit organization that encourages book swapping among neighbors. The concept is “take a book; share a book,” just like a library, but with no registration or due dates. Little Free Libraries exist in neighborhoods across the U.S. in standalone cases or boxes that hold books — often on street corners, parks or front yards. Anyone can set up a Little Free Library and personalize it to their liking, and with the help of the organization, they can register it on the official website and add it to a map where readers can find it.
Morgan discovered three Little Free Libraries already existed in Brentwood, but she still wanted to add her own.
“Keeping books out of landfills is so important,” Morgan said. “I love the idea of borrowing and reusing, and having these book exchanges would make people go outdoors. Maybe they would see (them) as they’re riding along the creek trails or playing along the park.”
Morgan is the president of her homeowners association at Sparrow Park in Brentwood, and after reaching out to her neighbors to get their ideas, many of them were on board and wanted to get involved, too.
“I had the idea that this could be like our neighborhood water cooler or coffee pot — the place where everyone meets,” she said.
Little Free Libraries are often geared toward children, to promote literacy and encourage kids to view reading as a fun activity outside of school, and this is what Morgan wanted to do. She doesn’t have children, so she reached out to neighbors to donate books to get the library started, and she was impressed with the response.
“It makes reading more relatable to children,” she said. “This gives them another reason to read in the summer.”
Morgan had some upcycled materials from an old nightstand but wasn’t sure how to build her library. She reached out on Nextdoor, a neighborhood social networking website, for help. She connected with Adam Martinez, owner of Handydads, a local business that provides handyman services. He had some wood left from a prior project and was so excited about Morgan’s idea that he wanted to help her free of charge.
“When I saw the story, I was so excited to help,” Martinez said. “I was able to build the post for her and help put it all together.”
He even added some of his 3- and 6-year-old daughters’ old books to her collection to help fill it.
“I think it’s such a great idea she had,” he said. “It’s awesome to encourage kids to read and get away from the TV.”
Morgan’s Little Free Library encouraged one of her neighbors to build their own, too, bringing the total units in Brentwood to five, and she hopes more will continue popping up.
To visit Morgan’s Little Free Library and take or share a book, visit Sparrow Park at Baird Circle in Brentwood. Other Little Free Libraries in Brentwood are located at: 1616 Highland Way; 10 Quail Court; 1300 Baylaurel Court; and 772 Marjoram Drive.
For more information about the Little Free Library or how to start your own, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org.