It was an honour to speak with the Grade 8 class at Braemar House School this morning. This engaged group of students are preparing to build 3 Little Free Libraries – one to erect at the school for the surrounding community and two to donate to areas of need. The students are involved with researching the Little Free Library, planning and building (with the assistance of a student’s grandfather, as part of their tech studies) and decorating the LFL. The grade 8 class will be graduating this June and leaving a legacy of of their love of reading by promoting literacy and giving back to the community!
We talked about the history and mission of LFLs which is to “promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations”. The students learned about key influences in the LFL movement including:
- Todd Bol – built the first LFL, a model of a one room school house, as a tribute to his mother, a former teacher who loved reading. His neighbours loved them so he built others and shared them.
- Rick Brooks – he saw the do-it-yourself project and helped with community development and social marketing.
Both these men were inspired by two key individuals:
- Andrew Carnegie – a rich industrialist who worked hard, starting his career as a telegraph messenger boy, then working for the railroads prior to being involved in the steel industry. He was an avid reader who borrowed from private libraries and was dedicated to education, making money and then giving the money away to worthy causes. He donated 90% of his fortune and contributed to 2501 libraries! The local Brantford connection is that he not only supported 125 libraries in Canada but he donated $30,000 (plus an additional $5000) for the Brantford Public Library which opened in 1904.
- Lutie Stearns – this passionate advocate for literacy was a founder of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission and and also shared her travelling library to lumber camps, farm communities and industrial centres. Despite her devastating stutter, she became a famous public speaker, sharing her love of books.
Bol and Brooks were inspired to promote the building of 2501 LFLs matching the number of libraries that Carnegie supported. They have dramatically exceeded their goal!! As of September 2015 there are over 32, 000 registered LFLs sharing books, promoting literacy and enhancing a love of reading!
Our family is loving sharing books with our community and is very excited that there will be 3 additional LFLs in Brantford in the new year. Please consider adding to the LFL movement and building a library for your yard, organization or school!!!