PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. - It's sad news to book lovers when a public library has to close or cut back hours.
But there's a worldwide movement that's been trying to fill the gap, and a mother in Prairie Village, Kan., has brought the concept to her own front yard.
Jennifer Ecklund-Johnson shares a love of reading with her two daughters.
"We're big readers in our family," she said. "We have lots of books we're kind of overrun with them and we're always wanting to share them."
So the idea of putting a library on their front lawn seemed like a perfect fit.
"It's a Little Free Library and you can check out books anytime you want," her 8-year-old daughter Violet explained.
Just like she said, the Little Free Library is a simple concept. They are meant to be places where anyone can come by, take a book or leave a book.
It’s meant to promote literacy and neighborhoods, and support -- not supplant -- community libraries.
But they do have one advantage over the public library.
"There's no due date for any of the books," Violet said.
The location in the Ecklund-Johnson front yard has only been open a week, but Jennifer said they've had readers come by every day.
"Each day you look in there and it's different books," she said.
She has noticed that most of the exchange has been in children's books, and her daughters are always curious to see what books people have brought in.
A lot of the traffic has been students on their way to and from her daughter’s school down the street. Jennifer said she's also met neighbors she never talked to before at the tiny lawn library.
As she was saying this, a neighbor driving by slowed down to tell her thanks.
“That happens a lot,” she said.
A friend built the wooden box, about the size of a doghouse, that holds the books. Jennifer planted flowers around its base and put a bench there. Jennifer said she’s seen people sitting there reading the book they've picked.
She thinks it’s been good for the neighborhood.
"It's been really cool…I had no idea how many people would agree with us that this was a fun idea," she said.
It's an idea that Jennifer hopes will spread -- as does the Little Free Library movement, which has a goal of seeing 2,510 of them built around the world.
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