Omaha's latest little library launched last month.
On a pleasant Saturday afternoon, Craig Moody put the finishing touches on the city's fifth official Little Free Library, affixing what amounted to a giant literary birdhouse to a wood post at the edge of his lawn.
Joining him were his wife, Emily; their 2-year-old daughter, Lydia; and next-door neighbor Petie Brey. The box straddles the Moody-Brey property line on a tree-lined block near Elmwood Park, so the two sides congregated for what was jokingly referred to as their library's “soft opening.”
Last summer, The World Herald's Carol Bicak reported on a number of Little Free Libraries that have popped up around Nebraska.
The popular movement, started in 2009 by Wisconsin residents Todd Bol and Rick Brooks, now claims more than 7,000 locations throughout the world. Sites can be found on the Little Free Library website (www.littlefreelibrary.org), where $35 puts your location on the project's online map and comes with an official nameplate.
Although you can buy ready-made kits from the project's website, Craig Moody drew up his own design, complete with a little rooftop garden. He built the exterior from reclaimed fence board, created an interior shell to waterproof the library and recruited his father to construct its little door.
As Craig attached the door, more neighbors came to see the finished product. A young girl from up the street wondered what the fuss was about, so Emily Moody explained the concept.
“You take a book and leave a book,” she said.
The girl gave a look suggesting this was maybe the strangest thing ever spoken and then came around to the idea, all in a matter seconds.
“Cool,” she said.
Other cool things have happened since the library went up.
Books have come, and books have gone. An elderly man from up the street deposited a handful of children's books that once belonged to his daughter.
Someone else left a small piece of art, free for the taking.
A neighbor brought a children's bench to sit at the base of the post. On a recent evening, Craig came home to see two kids sitting there, reading.
“It's sort of served as a catalyzing force,” he said, reflecting on the library's first month and the people he's met. “The neighborhood feels a little tighter.”