You're out for a walk. You notice what looks like a brightly decorated birdhouse along the path. That's new. There's a window on the front. You peek in the window. Books. One looks particularly interesting.
There's a small sign on the box: "Little Free Library. Take a book, return a book."
You can just take it? You pop open the door and collect the book.
A neighbour, out walking their dog, asks you about the book you're carrying. You mention the library, explain the perfectly simple system, and recruit another 'member' of the Little Free Library.
What a tremendous contribution that is to a community. What the Little Free Library lacks in extensive cataloguing or interlibrary loans it more than makes up in impulse reading and serendipity. Here, you can find something you didn't know you were looking for.
Books are great. They can take you to far away lands, pass on the wisdom of the ages and teach you to do new things. They're portable. They last a long time. They never need batteries. They make great gifts.
Moreover, once you've read a book, you know how it ends, you've learned what you can from it. You don't need to own it unless you want a reference or a souvenir. The important part is already in your head.
And so you've got a lot of books you've already read kicking around, useless. You're not going to re-read them and they're too good to throw out.
That's where the 'Little Free Library' comes in. The concept's simple. "Take a book, return a book." It's taking off in North America.
There are some standard plans and documentation of the movement at www.littlefreelibrary.org. The designs are as dignified or as eccentric as the people who build them.
These little libraries encourage literacy in the community, give people something to talk about, and provide a piece of public art that contributes to the life of the community.
You can share books you enjoyed and stumble upon new books or ideas that you might never have discovered.