The Greater Silver Spring Civitans Club (GSSC) and Glenmont Forest Neighbors Civic Association (GFNCA) have teamed up to create and maintain two Little Free Libraries to benefit the community, according to a county press release.
Founded by Tod Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009, the Little Free Library program evolved into a nonprofit organization as Little Free Libraries continued to grow annually. In 2020, the organization surpassed 100,000 registered Little Free Libraries in more than 100 countries worldwide. “Through Little Free Library book exchanges, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds,” reads the nonprofit’s website.
In a January 2016 article, Washington Gardner Magazine editor Kathy Jentz described the Little Free Libraries as part of the growing Sharing Economy movement, and folks have been embracing them as part of a way to interact and connect with their community. “People have been swapping and lending books since the printed press began, but the LFL idea of a network of unique structure with stewards, signage, and social support began in 2010,” Jentz wrote. “You can find an online map of all the registered locations. In the 20910/20912 area, I count at least 20 LFLs and have visited at least half of them in person myself.”
According to the county, one of the jointly-installed Little Free Libraries was launched in November 2019 at Judson Road and Lindell Street, and a second will be installed in a new community park beside Glenmont Fire Station 18 at 12210 Georgia Ave. GFNCA previously established little libraries on Livingston Street; at the Lindell and Randolph Streets juncture; at the intersection of Henderson Street and Grandview Avenue; and at Judson Road and Newton Street. Though installed on private property, the “lend-a-book-take-a-book” libraries are open to all members of the community.
In addition to being a place where community members can donate books for others to pick up and read, many Little Free Libraries are placed in areas that also provide settings that inspire readers to enjoy their books. For example, the library at the Judson/Lindell median is a gathering place with natural seating and a community bulletin board.
According to the press release, Little Free Libraries have been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic as many public buildings and services have not been available. The buildings of Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) have remained closed, and as a result, there was a considerable time after the health crisis began in which MCPL was unable to lend materials even under safe, specialized procedures.
As for maintaining the aforementioned Little Free Library locations, GSSC has said they will maintain them: “We will keep it going, look after them and refurbish them as needed,” said GSSC Vice-President Mirza Donegan in a statement.
GFNCA President Jim Epstein gave credit to the Montgomery Housing Partnership for getting the local library program off to a solid start by sending four GFNCA board members to training by NeighborWorks America, which granted GFNCA $2,000 for community projects. The Mid-County Regional Services Center provided additional startup funds through its “Neighborhood Event Matching Funds” program. Others have contributed in a variety of ways: The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection provided recycled tree stumps for seating at one location, and FAsMarketplace member Tychelle Mosely Art painted the little library for the new park location with original art.
A map of Little Free Library locations, including numerous other locations in Silver Spring & Takoma Park, can be found on the Little Free Library website.