On a recent trip to Morro Bay, Bass Lake Lions Club member Ed Koehler spotted something he’d never seen before - a Little Free Library (or community book exchange), filled with books. When he returned home, he told fellow member Roger Lee about it, believing it to be a unique and perfect addition for the Bass Lake community.
“We were shocked to find out what a big deal it is after Roger Googled it. These lending libraries are all over,” Koehler said.
Lions Club President Tony King called it a great idea, and Lee wasted no time building two small houses with glass doors to hold about 60 books each. Dru Bratty painted the wood and added the lettering, “Take One Leave One,” to the rooftops.
With one located near Bass Lake Realty in the Pines Village, and the second outside Bass Lake Estates near the row of mailboxes, the response has, so far, been beyond the club’s expectations.
“On the first day I put the library up outside Bass Lake Estates, I placed a few books inside,” Lee said. “When I went by later, someone else had stuck 30 more books inside.”
The Oakhurst Library offered a starter kit to the project, a sack filled with paperbacks.
“What a great idea to build not only one but two Little Free Libraries, which are packed full of book exchanges, in the Bass Lake area,” library manager Dale Rushing said. “I love promoting literacy and each little library promotes reading especially in areas that are not close to a public library ... the more people who have access to books to read free-of-charge, the better.”
Koehler added that Lee has offered to build these little libraries for other Lions Clubs at his cost.
The concept of Little Free Libraries began in Hudson Wisconsin in 2009 when Todd Bol built a small wooden house with a glass door, nailed it to a post in his front yard, and stuffed it with books.
The idea rapidly spread and by the beginning of 2016, there were more than 36,000 worldwide, offering curbside literacy, the sharing of millions of books, and the chance to reconnect with neighbors.