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Content here represents the voice of SIGNATURE SUNSETS, an informational initiative designed to broaden and brighten horizons in the funerary domain.

The material is an outgrowth of a pre-planning reference book, Pondering Leaves: Composing and Conveying Your Life Story's Epilogue, written by the author of this blog.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

MEMORIAL BOOK EXCHANGES IN YARDS

JOURNEY JOURNAL... New Orleans, LA

TALE ENDINGS:  NEIGHBORHOOD PAGE TURNERS

Along an ordinary street in front of a typical house in an accustomed neighborhood of 
New Orleans there stands an unusual focal point.  Behind it a suspended porch swing summons a mental image of calm repose generally associated with reading a book.


The “little library" phenomenon began as a memorial.  In 2009 a craftsman from Hudson, Wisconsin whose mother had died was inspired to erect a wooden, box-like structure atop a post on his lawn to serve as containment for a lending library of books.  The eye-catching novelty captured the attention of people passing by who encountered a welcoming invitation to take a book and eventually return a different one to replace it.  

It was intended as a commemorative tribute – a reflection of a mother’s passion for reading books and her role as a school teacher.  Esther's son, Todd Bol, relevantly designed the small receptacle in the configuration of a one-room schoolhouse.  

Photo Source:  Little Free Library Website, History Page

A collaborator, Rick Brooks, publicized the front yard attraction, causing the concept to be adopted by many others in widespread locations.

In fact, this means for a neighborhood book exchange heralded a trend that ensued throughout the world… so much so that a Wisconsin organization was established to oversee an ever-burgeoning network of them.  Dubbed a “Little Free Library,” this type of formation akin to a bird feeder now occupies many thousands of properties in all fifty states and in a few dozen countries.  

Photo Source:  Instagram via upworthy.com article

The movement represented by the “Little Free Library: Take A Book, Return A Book” 
non-profit entity has been described by the Wall Street Journal as “a global sensation.”  Anyone interested in providing a pop-up or micro-library of this sort can tap the organization for guidance.  People can choose to build a structure themselves or purchase one through this source via their website.  For a fee, libraries can be registered and then become part of a list of locations identified on a map where such book trading posts are located; the list is maintained via a website.  Registered owners are assigned a number and sent a printed sign that signifies participation in the “Little Free Library” program.  Resources are accessible to help sustain operations of someone’s community book exchange and opportunities to support the cause are available as well.     

This initiative motivated by a mission to promote literacy and the love of reading has also kindled peripheral perks.  Obviously, it stimulates individuals’ ideas and engenders collaboration among family members working as a team to complete a project.  Creativity can be unleashed because there is no prescribed pattern or standardization.  Designs run the gamut, from basic boxes – sometime replicating the architecture or colors of the houses by which they stand – to boldly unconventional motifs.   

(New Orleans)

Photo Source:  Instagram via upworthy.com article

Photo Source:  Instagram via upworthy.com article

Photo Source:  Instagram via upworthy.com article

Not surprisingly, these abbreviated houses brimming with books draw people together in a spirit of community, serving as an ice breaker and easily prompting spontaneous conversation.  Folks who have participated in the book exchanges consistently note that people have come out of the woodwork… that during a short period of time they have met and interacted with more neighbors as a result of this phenomenon than they had during many years of residing in the neighborhood.  One man commented that his little library “turned strangers into friends and a sometimes-impersonal neighborhood into a community.” 

Some individuals have followed the example set by the originator of this concept… to establish a little library as a tangible memorial commemorating the life of a loved one.  In New Orleans, where such structures dot at least a few dozen yards, besides the ubiquitous label identifying their connection with the supporting organization, there may be an additional notation that a particular library is dedicated to the memory of someone special.  In the Uptown district, one of them broadcasts a mother’s affinity for books. 



Imagine the relevance of such a gesture to celebrate decedents whose vocations or interests had connected them with books.  Or think of the possibilities for conjuring up a distinctive design in sync with a person's lifetime role or characteristic.  But even without such attachments or representations, simply in the name of someone who lived well, this might be a unique opportunity to energize enrichment among the living. 





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