Book Access is A Win-Win
Last week, the first 24-hour library vending machine in the United States was opened in Norman Oklahoma. Lacking the necessary funds to open new libraries, The Pioneer Library System decided that this was the best way to provide library services to people in an area without a nearby library branch. These types of machines have become popular in China, particularly in small cities and towns lacking branch libraries.
Another effort to make books more accessible to the public is the "take a book, leave a book" movement. Little Free Library is the non-profit organization behind this free-books movement, which originated in Wisconsin in 2009 and has rapidly expanded since. By the end of the year, co-founders Rick Brooks and Todd Bol anticipate there to be 15,000 Little Free Libraries in 55 countries. These homemade libraries are handcrafted by their owners and filled with books for children and adults, and placed on lawns, parks, gardens and coffee shops. Though the take-a-book-leave-a-book requirement is loosely enforced, many people do just that to ensure the library consistently has a plentiful and varied supply of books.
It may be too early yet to tell if library vending machines will catch on and spread in the United States, but it appears that Little Free Libraries are rapidly popping up in communities throughout the country, and with success. Many Little Free Libraries owners have noted that their books change daily, indicating a strong interest from members in the community.
Though traditional libraries are still the main sources of free book lending, these alternative options offer people even more access to books, promoting reading in communities that may not have nearby libraries, such as the area in Norman, Oklahoma. And as we know, reading is contagious-who knows how many bookworms will emerge from these types of grass roots trend?