knitxcore.: The Free Library.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Free Library.

free library 2

We pass this little "shelter" in the car almost everyday, and every time that we do I crane my neck to see inside. At first I thought it was a fruit stand, it's connected to a small horse farm, so that makes sense, right?. There are  at least five different fruit stands within 1 mile of our home. The building wasn't always painted like this, it used to just be a little white shelter; totally nondescript.

Sometime within the past week, it had been painted black with the words "Free Library; Take/Give A Book" and since the day I noticed it I could not stop thinking about it.

Yesterday, I had some spare time and it was really nice out, so I decided to walk down the road (for about 20 minutes each way) to check this place out.

Walking up to the property, there were six dogwoods. Each holding a plaque with the name of a family member and the dates of their death. I looked at each one and wondered what the person might have looked like, and whether or not the tree would have been an appropriate homage.

I finally wandered up the "free library" and tucked my self inside.

freelibrary 1

This is what it looked like. I felt kind of weird taking pictures in, it seemed so personal; eerily monumental among the memorial dogwoods. You could hear someone making horseshoes in one of the barns on the farm. I didn't really want to have a conversation with anyone; I sort of felt like I was trespassing, and after seeing all of the plaques I wouldn't have been able to look any remaining family members in the eye without tears.

The presence of the candles was striking. The had all been lit, except one blue one. I wasn't sure if someone had intended for them to find a new home or if they had been part of some sort of altar or ritual and I didn't want to shake things up. The "free library" had become and almost spiritual experience. I know I'm grasping at straws, but it's what I do best.



Eventually, I found my way to the handles of the cabinets below the makeshift altar and perused their wares. There wasn't much; a few Reader's Digest history books, a book of poetry, a bible and a stack of Martha Stewart Magazines (all essentials, really).

I took the poetry book and picked a random magazine, leaving behind two Chuck Palahniuk books ("Invisible Monsters + "Lullaby"), a book by Justin Taylor entitled "Everything here is the best thing ever", and "A Boy's Own Story" by Edmund White. I looked at them, my ephemeral footprint left at the free library on the side of the road, and closed the door.

I left a note for patrons that read, "Man loves company, even if it is only that of a small burning candle -Lichtenberg" and began the walk back to my own shelter full of candles.


Are there any quirky things in your own neighborhoods? Do ever explore your town on foot?


Eartha Kitsch said...

That's so cool. I've read about people doing these but have never seen one. The photos are sure pretty and I love the note that you left. And the idea of those memorial trees. So nice.

I wish that we could do this in front of our house but there is no telling what kind of craziness people would leave in there - empty liquor bottles...abandoned only knows. Could be a fine social experiment though.

Mary Has Sound said...

So cool! I love how quaint that seems. In Baltimore we have something called The Book Thing which is open every weekend where you can literally take as many books as you want (up to 999,999 a day). Walls of donated books! So fun. :) PS - I actually tried to e-mail you a bit back because very soon after I found your blog I found a cool old needlework magazine which I thought you might be interested in. Let me know if you want it! maryhassound @ yahoo. com

look see said...

That's wonderful! Such a great idea. Loves it.

Lilea said...

I'm trying to think where this place is... I can't place it. I can't wait to see it.

Nice touch with the note. The owners are going to love it, as well as future patrons.

Rae - Say It Ain't So said...

very cool. i love your photos, especially the one of the candles. great post.

Sir Thrift-A-Lot said...

LOL @ Eartha Kitsch.

The Free Library here would just be a junkie haven. I already find needles in the free local newspaper boxes.

I love that Lichtenberg quote, BTW.

Mandy Ferrugia said...

This has to be my favorite post that you've ever written. What an awesome place/story, and I think your photos captured the setting perfectly. I hope to stumble upon a place like this some day.

Rie said...

What a great find! I like that, give & take, maybe we should all do it.. in fact I have quiet a few books that I could give.....

Lisa said...

That looks really cool - it's great that you can give away books! (I'm slightly attached to mine ~_^)

P.S. I love the new header!

Sian Lile said...

i love this! i love books... but also love shrines and altars, and this is pretty shrine like! how beautiful.x

Rich said...

I love this; I love the authenticity of this. I've wanted to set up a micro-library on campus, tucked under some trees somewhere, every since reading this article in "Poets & Writers" last year:

Maybe we could get one with our budget surplus? Let's talk this week –– remind me.

(Also: why didn't you leave 'em a few Rewrites? These things ain't gonna distribute themselves, after all.)

Paula McGrath said...

wow - that's really awesome actually. and i believe you left some really great options. R would never be able to do that, he gets very attached to things :>

Ocean City has its own quirkiness found every day in the faces and actions of the residents who reside here are year long. It's as if they cannot comprehend life off the island have created quite the microcosm. I still love it here though :>

Renee said...

Amazing! I wish there was something like this in my neighbourhood, I usually donate to libraries/op shops, this idea goes straight to the booklover - lovely!

mypapercrane said...

That is so amazing, what a lovely space! We used to have a little free library here above a shop...but then they stopped and turned it into an actual bookstore in its own building. I don't mind because I love the bookstore and most books are $1. But I love that little library, plus that ceramic cat basket is just amazing! I love the idea of the trees with plaques too...thanks for sharing

Sir Thrift-A-Lot said...

Actually, now that I think of it, we have a "free library" in the laundry room of our building. There are two book shelves cram packed full of books. There are also two buildings that are also two other buildings in our complex that are owned by the same company & they too have free libraries in their laundry rooms too. They aren't as fun as this one though!

Stela said...

That is amazing! I wish something like that existed here. I love that you left Chuck Palahniuk books!

the Thrifty Gypsies said...

It's so cute! I feel like our town has nothing cute and quirky like that but I'm sure tourist feel differently. When I buy my farm house I'd totally start a free library - although I'd try and put all of Jasons books in it and he'd flip out.

Marquesa Jen said...

At our train station and the next couple down there are white shelves nailed to the wall that have "FREE BOOKS" painted on. A local artist I knew put them up and for awhile nobody used them, but now there is an ever shifting collection on them. I found a copy of "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" there, so I'm going to drop off some books there soon.

shakti said...

"a few Reader's Digest history books, a book of poetry, a bible and a stack of Martha Stewart Magazines"

You just described my mother's bookshelf.

That place looks awesome but I can see how you would feel like you were intruding.

Sarah said...

Wow... so jealous of the free library. It sounds like a great find! And kind of the perfect place for a free library... right by a sanctuary of sorts. :) Hope you continue to go back.