Little Free Libraries
Kris Humphries has books and the public good in her blood. Her mother was a librarian, her sisters are teachers, she's been an avid reader since her early childhood and has spent many of her working years in the public sector. These combined passions of hers, books and the public good, have led to her involvement with libraries throughout her life. And that is Ojai's good fortune.
Kris sits on the board of the Ojai Library Friends and Foundation. She is the person behind the Ojai Women's Fund grant application requesting funds for the construction, placement and maintenance of Little Free Libraries around the Ojai Valley. She first realized a need for more Little Free Libraries when she noticed that some residents in the greater valley didn't have easy access to our libraries because of location or hours.
What are Little Free Libraries (LFLs)? They are the small, enchanting structures that are colorfully painted and full of books that you can see scattered throughout our valley from Casitas Springs to the Summit School in the Upper Valley. They operate 24/7 and offer completely free books to anyone who wants to pick one up and drop one off.
With only half of the grant money, twelve LFL have already been constructed, painted, placed and stocked and will be maintained. Local residents largely volunteered their skills which allowed for costs to be kept to a minimum. So it's not just our citizens who use the little libraries who are involved - volunteers constructed them, local artists offered their time and skills to paint them and others helped place them. It's become a community project for the benefit of our community!
The remaining monies will be used to keep the structures full of books, both in English and Spanish, to maintain them and to hopefully build more. Click the button below to view a map of the Little Free Libraries in our area. Note that some are privately owned and maintained, although the OVLFF does help keep them stocked with books.
The project extends beyond our community as well. LFLs are an international movement with over 60,000 located throughout the world. Plus communities close to Ojai have helped stock out little libraries. In the recent wake of the Thomas Fire the Hollow Hills School in Simi Valley gave over 1,000 childrens' books to our community and these will go to stock the LFLs.
Seems like these small libraries generate good will. And why not? Kids can ride their bikes on a summer evening to discover their local outpost, select a new book and deposit an old one. Seniors can get to one at any time of day and not necessarily need a car. The LFLs are placed at schools, community centers and churches throughout the valley and people can explore these places that they might not previously have known.
The Ojai Women's Fund's grant has gone a long way to bring books to our residents and involved both our community and other communities in our endeavor. Kudos go to the OVLFF and their vision for a better Ojai and to our members for providing the funds to help implement this little libraries dream.