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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2020 2 months ago

Little Longboat libraries allow readers to take a book, leave a book

Little Free Library "libraries" were installed at Bayfront and Bicentennial parks about two years ago. But one seems to get used more often.
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

If you’ve taken a walk through Bayfront Park or Bicentennial Park, you’ve probably seen it. That box of books didn’t get there by itself.

The two boxes, one in each park, are part of the Little Free Library program.

The basic concept is that you take a book you'd like to read, and you replace it with one you'd like to donate. And, if you like, return the one you previously took. But one of Longboat’s two tiny libraries seems to get used a lot more than the other. Perhaps you can guess which it is.

The Little Free Library at Bayfront Park on March 6 (top) and March 12.

After checking on each library six days apart, March 6 and 12, the Observer found that four books had been taken from the Bayfront library and replaced by five books. Meanwhile, just one book was removed from the Bicentennial library — with none added.

The Little Free Library at Bicentennial Park on March 6 (top) and March 12.

The idea of installing a Little Free Library on Longboat Key happened about two years ago. Streets, Facilities, Parks & Recreation Manager Mark Richardson doesn’t remember who, but someone in the Public Works Department suggested it during the renovation and construction of Bayfront Park.

After doing some research, the department decided to put one up in Bayfront Park, and another in Bicentennial Park outside Longboat Key Town Hall.

Richardson and Public Works Street Crew Leader Mark Kerr chose the style of box, measuring factors such as what would last longest in the Florida climate. Then, they ordered two boxes — two libraries. When the libraries arrived, Richardson and Kerr assembled them, dug the holes and stuck them in the ground.

The process for each one took no more than an hour. “Very simple,” according to Richardson.

The boxes arrived with some standard books inside, the ones “that you might not know the name of,” Richardson said. “They’ve since disappeared and been replenished with other ones.

“It seems to go over well.”

Perhaps in one park more than the other. Still, one book is not zero.

A saying attributed to the Roman statesman Cicero goes like this: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” He wasn’t talking about parks, but you get the idea.

Brendan Lavell is a general assignment reporter for the Observer. He earned degrees in journalism and history at the University of Missouri. He has visited 48 of the 50 United States, has a black cat named Arya and roots for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, 76ers and Chelsea FC.

See All Articles by Brendan

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