Little Free Libraries Are a Hit at the Beach

Aug 21, 2019

As part of his eighth-grade graduation requirements from St. Mary’s School in Ridgefield, Conn., Jack Greenleaf had to come up with a project. He had a wide choice of options, said his mother, Anne Greenleaf, a summer resident in the Peahala Park section of Long Beach Township.

“He could have built a go-kart for himself,” said Greenleaf. “But he enjoys reading, so he thought he would put up small libraries by the beach.”

With the help of two mentors, one was built in June at the beach entrance by his parents’ home on 91st Street, and another was recently erected at the beach by the police station in the Brant Beach section. Each contains between 30 and 40 books.

“I have books for children as well as novels adults might want to read at the beach,” said Jack. “People are welcome to take a book, and they don’t necessarily have to return it. Or they can put a book in and exchange it with another.”

Jack said his favorite genres are sci-fi and realistic fiction.

“The beach is a great place for reading, so I thought the library would be frequently used,” he said.

His mother said the response has been overwhelming.

“People have been telling us what a great idea this was,” Anne said. “Jack could have easily done something for himself, but he thought of doing something that the community could share and enjoy.”

For Kathleen Creelman, summer is as much about books and reading as it is about sun, sand and surf. And this summer, she’s sharing her love of reading with the community, thanks to a Christmas gift from her daughter and son-in-law: a Little Free Library.

“I had thought it was an oversized bird house, a cute one at that,” Creelman said, noting later she learned about the Little Free Library membership and how it works. “I love the concept of spreading the joy of reading, as I was a child that simply hated reading and had a difficult time with it.  Now I find most of my time with my head in a book.”

Creelman’s Little Free Library is located near the dune fencing outside her Surf City home on the way to the beach.

“I have had so much fun placing books in it and seeing new ones being placed in it,” she said, adding it’s a gift that keeps on giving. “I water my plants in the morning and watch withdrawals and deposits with a wave and a huge smile from the guests that visit. I had no idea it would be this much fun.”

Creelman said she will be installing a children’s box next year, lower to ground level so they can select their own books. Her current facility is a mix of adult and children’s books, she said.

“Many people are still not aware of the Little Free Libraries and are afraid to approach the box,” she said. “I have directions on my box and see repeating readers during their week visit.” —E.E. and G.G.S.

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