We’ve all seen them – the little structures popping up on people’s front lawns all over Oak Park. They started showing up about five years ago, many people wondering at first if they were fancy bird houses, until word got out and knowledge of the Little Free Library movement started to spread.
The idea took hold in 2009 in Wisconsin in the shape of an old-fashioned schoolhouse. Originator of the first Little Free Library, Todd Bol, built the first “book box” as a way to memorialize his beloved mother, a teacher who loved to read. The schoolhouse was put on a post, positioned in his front yard and filled with books. Painted on it read, “Free Books”. Neighbors loved the idea, commented and wanted their own – and from that one tribute a mission of “exchanging books and bringing people together” was born. As of June of this year there are over 40,000 registered Little Free Libraries in all 50 states and in over 70 countries around the world.
Now Oak Park Apartments has added three more to the list at our properties located at 302 Washington Blvd., 301 Oak Park Ave. and 126 N. Elmwood Ave. with the help of Life Scout Ethan Guzman, scout troop #152, and the Oak Park River Forest Rotary Club (OPRF Rotary). Oak Park Apartments co-owner and long-time rotary member, Bill Planek, became the answer to Life Scout Guzman’s question of where to place the “book boxes” he had designed and built. Guzman’s project is a necessary step for a scout who is trying to achieve the ranking of Eagle Scout. The project is required by the scouts as a way to demonstrate leadership through a service that benefits the community. Guzman’s thought was the Little Free Libraries he constructed would allow neighborhood children greater access to books to borrow and/or trade.
We, at Oak Park Apartments, are looking forward to being a part of the book exchange!