Click2Daily: Little libraries sprouting up across Houston

HOUSTON - This may have happened to you before.

You’re walking through the neighborhood and you see this thing.

You’re not sure quite what it is.

It’s not a mailbox, it’s not a birdhouse, so you go up to investigate and you discover that it is a Little Free Library.

But just what are they all about?

“I hear quite often, ‘Well what are those? Yeah, I’ve seen those up there, what are they?’” Meadows Place Mayor Charles Jessup said.

They are exactly what they sound like. Little libraries that are completely free. No fees, no due dates, no limits. You can even just keep the book if you like. What would become the very first Little Free Library was built in Hudson, Wisconsin. Todd Bol constructed it in 2009 as a memorial tribute to his mother. From there, he and others began building the literary boxes to distribute in surrounding communities, which ultimately led to what is now a network of more than 50,000 of them in more than 70 countries.

PHOTOS: Some of the Little Free Library locations in Houston

“We don’t have a library close by,” Colene Cabezas said.

As Cabezas, Meadows Place's parks and recreation director, tells it, the little libraries sponsored by the city began as an idea in its youth action council.

“They wanted to make a difference. They wanted to put books in hands of kids that might not have books or have the opportunity to read,” Cabezas said.

“In our fast-paced world this kind of slows people down, gives them some great family time in the outdoors in a nondigital manner and it’s introducing them to books and to reading and we all know that people that read have a much better chance at being successful in life and usually much happier than those that don’t,” Jessup said.

Jessup said even though their little libraries have only been installed for about a year, he’s definitely seen the impact.

“We’ve got families that walk up here, they make an event once a week. They’ll come up there or one family of about five kids comes up here a couple, three times a week. Some walk, some ride their bikes and then they’ll stay and play in our park area,” Jessup said.

They’ll bring books to add, take books home with them or even bring one along on a trip.

“Take and leave it where you are,” Jessup said.

“I kind of liken it to the Redbox. So if you’re on a road trip per se and you’re driving through one city, you can look on the map and see what city has a library box. You can grab a book, read it as you go to your next destination, change out a book there and just kind of keep on. So I thought that was a really neat way to kind of connect it all and have the kids understand that these are all over the world,” Cabezas said.

If you’ve looked at the map and found there isn’t one near you, Jessup has this piece of advice:

“... If they don’t have them they might want to consider putting one in because it has made a huge difference to a large segment of our community that spans from 4 years old to 94."

That’s right. Anyone anywhere can start up a Little Free Library. Just make sure yours don’t break any local laws or homeowners association rules.

Click or tap here to find out if you have a Little Free Library near you.

Follow Chip Brewster on Twitter and Facebook.

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