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Little Free Libraries find a home in Perth

Founder Todd built the first Little Free Library in his mother's memory

Founder Todd built the first Little Free Library in his mother's memory

Danielle Austin, Staff reporter

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The Little Free Library movement has come to Perth.

The movement provides free education and cultural services in a box slightly larger than a mailbox, with four of Australia’s 35 registered Little Free Libraries now in Perth.

The movement started with the Little Free Library book exchange in 2009 in Hudson, Wisconsin. Founder Todd Bol built a miniature one-room schoolhouse in his mother’s memory, filled it with books, and put it on a post in his front yard. Today there are over 25, 000 Little Free Libraries worldwide.

A Little Free Library is made with recycled materials, but the design is at the discretion of the maker. The books inside can be taken, swapped, or just used to strike up conversation with a literacy-loving stranger.

Bayswater resident and owner of Perth’s second registered Little Free Library Rob Strahan said that he liked the sense of community behind the movement.

“I’m a massive fan of books being made to be read,” Mr Strahan said.

“We’ve all got books we read once or maybe twice; I like the idea of community.”

According to Mr Strahan children’s books were most popular in his Little Free Library.

“Kids books tend to go and not get replaced so we have a hard time keeping up with kids books.”

Along with his children Mr Strahan is also bringing a Little Free Herb Garden to his community, allowing neighbours to help themselves to the fresh produce.

Cottesloe resident Loraine Corrie also believes that a plant and produce exchange could be the next direction for the Little Free Movement in Australia. Ms Corrie, along with husband Rob Kornweibel, built their Little Free Library to promote both a sense of community and a love of reading.

“People seem amazed that nothing bad has happened and ask if books get stolen,” said Ms Corrie.

“The answer is you can’t steal something that is free. The LFL is small and quirky, and seems to promote trust.”

Ms Corrie believes that new publications and those by established authors are most popular at the Cottesloe library, and she would like to work on the selection available to children who like to use the pintsized structure.

In Madison, Wisconsin, the Little Free Movement is beginning to move in a new direction. Since 2012 visual artists Rachael Bruya and Jeremy Wineburg have operated Little Galleries. Their two miniature galleries house a new contemporary art show each month between May and November. The Little Galleries accept art proposals from enthusiasts and have a focus on connecting the art show to the site and engaging viewers in unusual ways.

In the works is The Little Free Museum movement, which quickly gaining momentum, and engineer Matt Hirsh says after seeing his neighbours libraries and art galleries, his imminent science museum was an obvious next step.

Also in Madison, Wisconsin, Mr Hirsh has already raised over $2000 through Kickstarter to fund the construction of the Little Free Museum, which will house science exhibits aimed at 11 to 14 year olds, when Mr Hirsh believes interests in science and technology begin to solidify.

“Its not just about sharing ideas,” Mr Hirsh says.

“If any single ‘little structure’ effects change in a single individual’s life, I consider that a success.

“I don’t have any predefined ideas about what should or will be next for the Little Free Movement. It is exciting because it allows an individual to share his/her passions with a community.”

The only thing that limits where the Little Free Movement goes next is imagination. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Little Free Bakery.

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Little Free Libraries find a home in Perth