GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - After hearing a Colorado Public Radio segment this winter about Little Free Libraries in Colorado, Grand Junction residents Kelly McGuire and her husband, Ira Creasman, decided it was time to bring one to the Western Slope.
The tiny libraries, cabinets roughly the size of a birdhouse, are stocked with free books. Passersby are encouraged to take a look and a book.
McGuire is an English as a Second Language teacher at Central High School, and Creasman is a Fruita Monument High School librarian. The couple installed the Little Free Library in their yard at 1416 Elm Ave. (off of 14th Street) in early January.
"My wife and I are both literacy teachers," Creasman, 31, said. "It's important to us that books be shared, that literacy be shared."
Between the two of them, they had plenty of books to initially fill the box. An official Little Free Library sign - one that people receive when they register their tiny libraries with the Wisconsin-based nonprofit - invites visitors to "take a book, leave a book."
Although he doesn't keep track of what goes in and out, Creasman does check the box regularly.
"It's been a pretty good turn-around," Creasman said.
According to an article titled "Tiny Libraries Connect Neighborhoods, One Book at a Time," published in "The Chronicle of Philanthropy," the modern-day Little Free Library movement began a few years ago when Hudson, Wis., resident Todd Bol installed a handcrafted box filled with giveaway books in his front yard as a tribute to his late mother.
Bol now builds the library boxes and signs that people from around the world order from the nonprofit to set up their own tiny library.
The organization estimates that there are 5,000 to 6,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide, including in all 50 states and in 36 countries.
McGuire was the driving force behind the Grand Junction Little Free Library, Creasman said. She asked her father-in-law, the late Larry Creasman, who was a talented craftsman, if he would build a cabinet to house the little library. Creasman died of cancer Jan. 10, not long after the little library was installed.
"We see people go to it every day," McGuire said. "We've met some of our neighbors. It's really cool."
Creasman and McGuire tend to read adventure fiction, science-fiction and fantasy-type books. They filled their tiny library with their own books, mostly fiction, as well as a few old college textbooks.
Creasman said he's taken a book just once.
It was the title of one he'd lost from a favorite fantasy series. When the book showed up in the Little Free Library "I snagged it," Creasman said.
Creasman and McGuire are in the process of buying a home in the neighborhood. They'll be taking the cabinet his father built with them when they move and will place the Little Free Library in their new yard.
Creasman said he also wants to keep a little library going at its current location, and intends to buy a cabinet kit to install there.
"I entirely encourage others to do it," Creasman said. "It's a neat thing to have and to watch," people meeting one another and "observing books move."