Tag Archives: Little Free Library

This “Little Free” location draws art lovers and book lovers alike

22 May

Certainly most everyone by now is familiar with the concept of Little Free Libraries, mini libraries installed outside homes and schools, packed with books and magazines free for the taking.

A few months ago I posted a blog about one family who turned their little library into a puzzle exchange. Recently I was delighted to discover another extremely creative twist on the Little Free Library idea: the Little Free Art Gallery. In this case, instead of books, visitors will find pocket-sized pieces of fine art neatly arranged on miniature easels inside the box. Anyone is welcome to leave a piece, take a piece or just enjoy the artwork that others have left.

Even better than learning about these whimisical, pint-sized art galleries is finding out there’s one only a few minutes east of Webster.

Julie and Jim Gocker live on Ontario Drive, about a half mile north of Lake Rd. in Ontario. About three years ago, Jim built and installed a Little Free Libray in front of their lake-side home. It was the perfect way for Julie, a retired school library teaching assistant, to share her love for books with her neighbors.

Last year, just as the pandemic started, Julie read somewhere about Little Free Art Galleries, and hatched the idea to build one of their own. Given her background and having raised a family of artists and teachers, the library expansion seemed like a natural next step.

“It’s such an important thing to appreciate, either having a book to read or a picture to look at,” Julie said. “Those are important to us, and because we live in a walking neighborhood we just thought it’d be kind of cool.”

“I have to say that the plus to the whole COVID thing is seeing kids on bikes, swimming in the lake, and walking with their parents instead of being off on the soccer field or lacrosse field,” Julie added. “They’re home doing family things and taking books. So we thought it’d be a perfect year to do our Little Free Art Gallery.”

Building the gallery kept Jim busy for a while in the depths of the pandemic. When it was done, they waited for the weather to turn, and installed it on May 1.

This was the very first piece of art submitted to the new gallery. By Emilee, future artist extraorindaire.

Julie and Jim stocked the new gallery with their own creations until other people started adding their own. Their first artist in residence was a young neighborhood girl named Emilee, who filled her canvas with a large pink, green and yellow flower.

Perhaps it’s because the gallery is fairly new, but Julie said they haven’t had a lot of submissions yet, even though they keep restocking the gallery with several blank canvases every week. “They all disappear, but nobody’s been bringing any more paintings back to us,” Julie said. “We think Emilee’s probably going to have an art show.”

Of course the Gockers would love to see more artists contribute to the gallery, but they also encourage visitors to help themselves to a pint-sized painting at any time. Most of them are only 3″ square, the perfect size for your desk at work or home. But if you just want to stop by and admire the artwork — just like you would in any art gallery — you’re perfectly welcome to do that as well.

You’ll find the Gockers’ Little Free Art Gallery at 697 Ontario Drive in Ontario. And while you’re there, how about showing some love to their Little Free Library, too? They’ve already got a good stock of adult books, but could really use some children’s books.

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Webster family puts a puzzling twist on their Little Free Library

10 Mar

Plenty of Little Free Libraries have popped up in Webster, those mini libraries packed with books and magazines free for the taking. But I recently discovered one that’s different from any other you’ll see — maybe anywhere. That’s because it’s stuffed with puzzles, not books.

The Puzzle Exchange, located at 1440 Plank Rd., is the brainchild of Brian Roode, his wife Janine, and kids Simon and Lucy. They came up with the idea early on in the pandemic as a way to share their love of jigsaw puzzles with a larger audience.

“We were at home so much, doing puzzles,” Brian said. “We were doing a lot of trading of puzzles back and forth with a few different families. We said, why not make someplace where lots of people can enjoy the puzzles?”

So about a year ago they erected their Puzzle Exchange, basically a Little Free Library for puzzles. The library compartment is surprisingly spacious; in one photo on the Puzzle Exchange Facebook page, I counted a dozen puzzles stuffed inside. And the box is marked with a handsome flag, emblazoned with a puzzle piece, so it’s kind of hard to miss when you’re driving by on Plank Rd.

All the family members pitch in to check it regularly and keep it stocked, and over the winter everyone helped shovel snow to maintain a clear path to the street.

The Exchange has clearly been a hit. When they first put it up, they started out with just two or three puzzles. But since then, word has spread enough that the collection has populated itself quite nicely, so much so that the Roodes have had to put a large tote near the box to handle the overflow.

“There’s a few people a day that stop and hit it,” Brian said. “The puzzles usually change over pretty quickly. There’s a range of adult puzzles and kid puzzles and little kid puzzles, like 10 pieces.”

Being puzzle stewards has been so much fun for the Roode family that they’re even thinking of branching out and doing a game exchange.

Stay tuned.

The Puzzle Exchange is an officially registered Little Free Library. You’ll find it at 1440 Plank Rd., between Fairport Nine Mile Point Rd. (Rt. 250) and Harris Rd. Look for the flag! To stay up to date on the puzzles you might find inside, follow the Puzzle Exchange Facebook page.

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WHAT am I going to do with the kids? (Part 2)

19 Mar

We have to keep these kids reading.

hartsville

This Little Free Library is on Hartsville Lane.

That has been made a lot more difficult now that we don’t have easy access to our school libraries or the public libraries. BUT… we DO have an abundance of Little Free Libraries.

I’m sure you’ve heard about these. Basically, they’re exactly what the name says:  diminutive libraries packed with books and magazines free for the taking.  They look kind of like large birdhouses (or some other fancy design) with wide Plexiglas front doors, stuck on top of a pedestal, and can be found in front yards, at community centers, near schools and parks.

The idea is simple.  You go up to one of these book boxes, poke through the books, choose one you want, and take it home.  When you’re done with it, you can return it, or perhaps replace it with another one.

There’s a website you can visit to see where all of the officially registered Little Free Libraries are located. But I know for a fact that there are a lot more little libraries in our town than are on that map — ’cause it costs money to register them. For example, many of our schools have one outside.

So why not check out the map and start your own Little Free Library tour?  It’s a great way to keep getting “new” books for your whole family.

P.S. Don’t be afraid to extend your search into our neighboring towns. Irondequoit and Penfield, for example, have a whole bunch of Little Free Libraries.

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A new, not-so-little free library

6 Jul

I’m working on an Our Towns East Extra column for publication in the next few weeks, but this is such a cute Webster-local story, I thought I’d like to give everyone a preview.

Brynn

Last summer, little Brynn Anderson, who lives not far from me in north Penfield, decided she wanted to put up a Little Free Library, inspired by something she saw on TV. After researching how much it would actually cost to build one (especially from the pre-designed kits) and register it, her father Zach and mother Jamie helped Brynn come up with a more creative solution.

So Brynn packed a Little Tykes doll carriage with books, and every day wheeled it out and parked it by the tree along the roadway in front of their house. It worked out pretty well; it held as many as 30 picture books at one time. Only problem was, they tended to get a little wet if it rained.

Thanks in part to the success of that “little wheeled library,” and especially because Zach’s friend and Spry Middle School colleague Jason Jugovic offered to build a more permanent structure, Brynn’s original library has grown.

A lot.

This summer, Brynn unveiled her “Medium Free Library.” It’s kind of hard to miss as you drive down Galante Circle in Penfield. While traditional Little Free Libraries are typically about 28 inches tall by a foot deep, Brynn’s library measures a whopping 4 x 6 feet. It’s so big that when it was being built, people thought it might be a chicken coop.

Brynn says the new library is getting a lot of traffic, and several family members and friends are helping keep it stocked with books. Like the baby stroller, this one is on wheels as well … but a little more protected from the elements.

Watch for more photos and more of the story in the column in a few weeks.

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