Grassroots Library Comes to Smyrna
The Little Free Library movement is gaining momentum nationwide and Vickery Do it Best Hardware is now home to Smyrna's first little library.
Thinking about Vickery Do it Best Hardware Store conjures up images of hammers, nails, wood and gardening supplies, but not books and especially not libraries. However, Susan Harlan, the store’s manager, sees things differently. Harlan is the woman behind Vickery’s Little Free Library, the first library of its kind in Smyrna that is part of the larger Little Free Library movement that’s spreading across the nation.
The idea behind Little Free Libraries is that you don’t need to build an expensive building to house a library. Instead reading enthusiasts everywhere are building “little libraries” that resemble large birdhouses and setting them up in their yards and businesses.
Harlan first heard about Little Free Libraries on NPR and said she knew it was something she wanted to do at Vickery.
“I love the idea of libraries; that books are available to anybody,” she said. “When you hear about now they’re having to cut their hours and cut their staffing and in so many communities they’re actually having to close libraries, this just seemed like an easy way to get involved and put my money where my mouth was. If I think that’s a great thing then I should do something to help that.”
Harlan and the staff at Vickery wanted to create a little library that resembled the look of the hardware store. She said Frank Ford designed the library, which is painted blue and equipped with two bookshelves and glass doors.
Harlan stocks the library with books from own collection, mostly novels, but accepts donations from customers. She plans to rotate the books so there's always something fresh on the shelves.
The little library has been in operation at Vickery for about a month, and Harlan said customers love it. She received a call from one elderly customer thanking her for the library because she has trouble navigating the stairs at the Smyrna library and the little library is more convenient for her.
To Harlan, books bring people from all walks of life together.
“When we were still in the planning stages, we were trying to figure out how we were going to build it, one of my customers noticed what we were doing so he was asking me about it,” she said “He was kind of a burly guy, typical construction undershirt, but a nice guy. He looked into what we were doing and I kind of figured he was going to scoff at it a little bit and he got so excited. He said he reads a book a week and he could not wait for us to get it going. It really meant a lot to me.”