DENVER – You can't run an errand in some areas of the Denver metro area without seeing a curbside box filled with books.
The sign on the outside says "take a book, return a book."
That simple yet powerful message is at the heart of the Little Free Libraries that are taking off in popularity all over the world.
This public display of a love for hardcovers and paperbacks spreads from one end of Colorado to the other.
According to the website for the parent organization, Colorado has approximately 133 Little Free Libraries. You can borrow a book in cities big and small. Denver has the most Little Free Libraries, with an estimated 62.
Anybody can put one up in their yard. The website has building tips. For those who aren't crafty, there are some basic models you can purchase for your yard.
The idea started in 2009 in Wisconsin. Todd Bol built a replica of a red school house in honor of his mother who was a former school teacher who loved to read. He posted it in his front yard and put books inside. Friends and neighbors started doing the same thing.
Early names for the boxes consisted of "Habitat for Humanities" and "House of Stories." Little Free Libraries seemed to stick along with the "take a book, leave a book" slogan.
"A lot of people are thinking print books are going to be totally obsolete and gone. I don't think so," said Jolene Gutierrez, a librarian at Denver Academy.
Two years ago, Gutierrez suggested the idea to the head of the school's maintenance department. DA's Little Free Library is still standing in good shape on the campus on Iliff Avenue. It's not only for the students but also for the school's neighbors to enjoy.
"As an author and librarian, I understand the power of books and the printed word," Gutierrez said. "I've witnessed how finding the right book can change kids' lives. I think there are still a lot of people who want to hold books in their hands. I think the rise of the Little Free Library is proving that."
For more information on the Little Free Libraries, visit: http://littlefreelibrary.org/.
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