On a drive to enjoy the natural beauty along the lighthouse trail this summer, perhaps you’ve passed another oasis, this one manmade. It features a welcome flag, kitschy pink flamingos, and a bench to rest your weary self. The Little Free Library at 112 Latham Circle greets visitors and residents alike.
Unlike such libraries installed by the Friends of the Saugerties Library this spring, this one was created and installed by local resident Oliver Burnett. “Since I first saw one, I’ve fallen in love with Little Free Libraries,” Burnett said. “I figured that there was nothing stopping me from having my own, and it was a fun idea.”
Rather than purchasing a pre-made unit, Burnett used his repurposing skills, turning a cabinet acquired at a yard sale and an old barrel used for chicken feed into a home for books aimed at readers of all ages.
This Little Free Library works the same way as the others. Visitors may take a book or leave a book, and sign the guestbook.
The library on Latham Circle, however, offers more than just books. There are handmade trinkets and other items that frequently revolve around a theme, including Banned Books Week or Pride Month. “The goal is to spread information to those who need it or to those looking to support them and especially to those who may not have any other resource,” explained Burnett. “At the very least, it creates an inclusive environment to show all are welcome and invited to enjoy the little free library.”
Burnett’s library also includes “reading buddies,” small stuffed animals meant to be taken home by a child to be read aloud to. “It’s about creating a positive experience,” he said, “and if a book and a toy is what that takes, I am happy to provide.”
Creating a love of reading is important for Burnett, who says he has loved the journey that books provide.
Though Burnett’s Little Free Library is not part of the official list distributed by the public library, he sees them all working together. The more prominent little free libraries are in the community, the more likely they will be recognized and loved, he said. The concept could go viral. “As they become more common, it will be more likely that [people] approach a Little Free Library on their own and share the experience,” he said. “All of the little free libraries exist in a symbiotic relationship where kindness snowballs, and each is no more important than another.”
Burnett sees the movement to install and utilize these libraries as an act of community involvement that spreads kindness through sharing books. His little library now includes a basket of kindness rocks, with inspiring messages on them meant either to head out into the community or to empower those who see them. “Sometimes something as small as a box of books can do so much for another person,” he said, “and I encourage everyone to be kind and pay it forward, even if it doesn’t seem like much.”