SCARBOROUGH — Residents are being encouraged to build their own libraries.
Specifically, their own Little Free Libraries.
The Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that “inspires a love of reading, builds community and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world,” according to its website.
The free book exchanges are boxes, often made from wood, protected from the weather and posted in accessible spots where people can take, read and exchange the books, either at the same or other Little Free Libraries.
The group started in 2012 with a goal of installing 2,510 libraries, but there are now more than 50,000 internationally.
Emily Read, president of the Scarborough Public Library trustees and the local program organizer, said the library started the program last summer. She said Scarborough now has 11 Little Free Libraries, with six more planned for the spring.
The new libraries will be in the north Scarborough area, at Piper Shores, Pleasant Hill, Higgins Beach, and possibly Dunstan Corner.
“One of our missions is community-building and Little Free Libraries are known for their ability to build neighborhoods and bring people together,” library Director Nancy Crowell said.
Crowell also said it promotes literacy.
“Anything we can do to provide reading opportunities in our community is a good thing,” she said.
Crowell said people can build their own structure, buy one from the Little Free Library website, or repurpose another vessel, such as a newspaper box, bread box or cabinet.
The library held its first workshop on Sunday, March 26. Read said the library is also planning to hold a build day later this spring.
During the free workshop, Chris Rayner, 18, a senior at Scarborough High School and member of Boy Scout Troop 47, said he built four Little Free Libraries for his Eagle Scout project.
Rayner, who volunteered as a library helper in middle school, said he liked the “idea of promoting literacy, especially right here in Scarborough.”
He said he wanted to participate in the little library program because it “really benefits Scarborough and I wanted my project to be remembered. It’s nice to know that they will be there for a while.”
“In this day and age, people are more focused on technology than on a book,” Rayner said. “I think it is beneficial to promote literacy, especially at a young age. This library has been important to me and I have used their resources.”
Rayner used scrap wood to build a prototype, followed by an electronic computer model.
With the help of volunteers, Rayner built four libraries, using picture frames that came with Plexiglas for the doors. He added sealant, knobs, and hinges, and applied protective waterproof stain before putting the pieces together.
Other features Rayner added to make the libraries more weatherproof were weatherstripping around the doors and a drip edge and flashing on the roofs.
Rayner built the libraries last September and October and installed them in December at Wiley Sports Complex, Springbrook Sports Complex, and on Memory Lane and Laughton Circle.
Rayner achieved the rank of Eagle on Feb. 2 for his efforts.
Read said the Scarborough High School Interact Club donated books to the town library that residents can use to help stock their little libraries. Read also said a lot of people attach a geocache to their library to draw people to the site. Anyone interested in participating in the program can either contact Read at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by the front desk at the library. More information can also be found at facebook.com/ScarboroughLittleFreeLibraries.
Read had tips for residents who would like to host their own Little Free Library. For safety and legal requirements, residents should call dig safe, check with code enforcement and, if the property is overseen by a homeowner’s association, they should check with it as well.
To make the Little Free Library a success, Read recommends residents register with the Little Free Library organization at littlefreelibrary.org, where library owners can also register on the world map.
Read also encourages stewards to join the Scarborough library’s Little Free Library page, and register their books at bookcrossing.com, which assigns a number to each book so they can be followed through their travels.
This Little Free Library was painted by members of the Piper Shores retirement community in Scarborough, where it will be installed.
Scarborough High School student Chris Rayner built several Little Free Libraries for an Eagle Scout project. He said “I think it is beneficial to promote literacy.”