Little Free Libraries, Folk & Yard Art

Little Free Library (N. Mason Ave Neighbors)

This section shows pictures of Little Free Libraries and some of the Folk and Yard Art that Gladstonians display in their yards that is visible from the street. The photographer concentrated on finding unique homegrown elements such as statues built of car parts, folk painted garage doors, and tree art. There are no gnomes or benches or toadstools of the type that can be bought at big box stores.

Of the five Little Free Libraries she found in Gladstone Park, four have been registered with the national organization of the same name. Started in 2009 by a Wisconsin man who stuffed a hand-built miniature schoolhouse with donated books and mounted it on a post in his front yard for any and all takers to enjoy, the Little Free Libraries has always been a grassroots movement. There are now more than 25,000 of these little libraries throughout the world.

The fun of the initiative is that any individual or group of neighbors can make a Little Free Library in any kind of a design or color they want. In Gladstone Park there are purple, blue, and green house-like designs, one that appears to be an old newspaper box, and another decorated with the four stars of the Chicago flag. They are located next to sidewalks on people’s front lawns, on parkways or corners, and even in neighborhood parks. Offerings range from picture books to chapter books to young adult fiction to romance novels to spy thrillers.

The “take a book, leave a book” mantra is one that has been well received by people everywhere. For their efforts, the Little Free Libraries organization has received awards from the National Book Foundation, the American Library Association and the Library of Congress.

Not just tolerated in Chicago, Little Free Libraries are fostered in the city as a means for promoting literacy and community. While Gladstone Park’s efforts are individual- or street-oriented, a group called Chicago Black Box Project on the south and west sides of the city has endeavored to support a neighborhood-wide network of 20 free book kiosks along with food pantry items and other items their communities need.

Click on a photo to enlarge and visit the gallery.