Little Free Library of Carolina Bay
By Renata Sierzega
You may be a person who loves a book…the cover, the paper, the idea of what may be inside. There are books about facts, books about people, books about places and things and how to and why. There is or will be in the future a book about anything you can imagine. Wow!
Where do you find these magical books that, when you open them, take you somewhere else and teach you things you did not know before? Everywhere! But books are not always where everyone can get to them or where they need to be. That is how the Little Free Library movement started, and it is solving that dilemma one little library at a time worldwide.
“Take a book, leave a book” is the Little Free Library (LFL) concept. It aims to provide access to books to anyone, anywhere, free of charge. They are a 501 non-profit organization that promotes neighborhood book exchanges. Here in Carolina Bay, we are fortunate to have access to 4 unique Little Free Libraries.
LFL Pixley Street: by Lynn Daneberg, Steward
In 2015, I had read an article in either The New York Times or our Post & Courier about a Little Free Library. I thought it would be a great idea to have one in our neighborhood. The idea came up in conversation with our good friends and neighbors, Pat & Hal Perry. In ongoing discussions about the concept, Hal volunteered to draw up the plans and construct the library. I submitted our plans to the HOA, and we received approval.
Hal Perry & Lynn Daneberg
We chose to skip registering it with the global Little Free Library Association and instead put the funds into its construction. We decided that placing it on Pixley Street close to our mailbox kiosk would make it convenient and bring awareness to it quickly.
Here we are, 6 years and a global pandemic later. People use it to recycle and share all types of books…fiction, how-to, cooking, crafts, childrens’, puzzles, and more.
LFL Gammon Street: by Eden Buntin and Tice, Stewards
I found my first ‘take a book, leave a book’ while on a medical mission trip to Ghana, Africa. I found another while searching for my soul in the Caribbean. I noticed them in New Orleans, LA while helping repair and build houses while staying at Camp Hope in St. Bernard Parish after Hurricane Katrina. Then another in the little coffee shop near campus, where I spent the better part of my years in nursing school.
Eden Buntin & Tice
When I came across an article about Little Free Libraries being built on the west coast, I knew it was something I wanted to support and share with others.
Deciding to build one for my son, the house, and this neighborhood was an easy decision. It’s so family-friendly here, and any opportunity to promote literacy is one I’ll always support! Our Little Free Library was built for my son’s birthday in 2016. It took over a year and a half of appeals to finally have it approved by the HOA, but I am very thankful I stuck out the process. My son loves finding new books to read and retiring his for someone else to treasure. Selfishly for me, it makes my soul smile each time I see little kids and their families stopping to take a book or leave a book.
LFL Conservancy Lane: by Heather Dancer-Gensert, Steward
Our LFL came with our house on Conservancy Lane. In fact, it was one of the things that made us want to purchase this house over the others we were choosing from at that time.
We are a family of book lovers – our kiddos have never asked to go to toy stores, always opting to go to bookstores instead. For almost a decade, being a homeschool family has helped fuel their passion for reading. Our schooling is mostly literature-based.
Lu Lynn, Laurie, Kathryn & Heather Dancer-Gensert
This year our LFL took the Read in Color pledge to help make sure diverse books get into the hands and hearts of readers in our community. We will be working with friends and community members to collect and distribute books by, for, and about many marginalized communities. Representation matters, and we want to make sure all people are represented within the shelves of our LFL.
Through the pages of a book, we make new friends or perhaps find ourselves or learn the truth about our history. We find ways to be inspired to do better, to be better. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry. Books offer us opportunities to stretch our imagination and inspire us to go and do good things in this world. “Take a book, leave a book,” and maybe even make a new friend. That’s what community is all about.
LFL Cristalino Circle: by Renata Sierzega, Steward
I knew Carolina Bay had 3 LFL’s in the neighborhood. However, the Tidewater Townhomes are a mile from the park and have no amenities that define us as a neighborhood. I believed that having an LFL for us to share would be a way to enhance a sense of community.
I looked at the LFL website and was amazed at the resources and support offered there. Our LFL is actually designed like one we saw on the website with the look of a book on top! Once I spread the word that an LFL was coming to Tidewater, neighbors kept asking “Is it built yet?” or offering “I have books to share!”.
After almost 3 years of red tape, the library was built by my husband, Richard Sierzega. He put a lot of attention to detail to ensure it was watertight, big enough, and solid. He enjoyed acquiring a few new tools along the way!
Renata & Richard Sierzega
We had a Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on March 6, 2021. It has been a favorite spot to stop and browse ever since. We started with about 80 books, and over 80% of those were turned over within 3 weeks. The library is always full of new books!
The story certainly does not end there. Our Tidewater neighbor Jesse James, a talented local artist, joined the fun by designing and making a whimsical doorknob to open the library door. A young Mom and her daughter discussed reading with a neighbor, and there was a need for a reading tutor. One was found in the neighborhood and is making a difference. An older woman who walks her dog daily is a big reader and gives and takes regularly. Kids on skateboards, couples taking their walks, everyone is enjoying our new amenity in Tidewater!
And finally, the LFL is refreshed about every 30 days, in part thanks to the generous donations of our sponsor ReTAIL, an animal helpers’ resale store located at 1601 Savannah Highway, Charleston, SC. All proceeds from their store go to Pet Helpers to save animals in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Thank them by shopping in their store.
Next time you take a walk or a bike ride around the neighborhood, be sure to stop by one of the 4 Little Free Libraries. You never know what you might learn or who you will meet when you open up a book! To learn more and find the worldwide map to locate other registered LFLs, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org or www.Facebook.com/LittleFreeLibrary
Renata Sierzega is a resident of Carolina Bay.