Little Free Library Helps Pastor Reach Neighbors

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When Dale Melenberg put his Little Free Library on his front lawn, it wasn’t just a way to bolster literacy. It was also a chance to get to know the neighbors.

Melenberg, the pastor of Maranatha Christian Reformed Church in Calgary, Alberta, built his library after residents in his neighborhood were challenged to help bolster early childhood literacy.

Little Free Library is a worldwide cooperative that promotes little libraries, the majority of which look like unique oversized birdhouses. The number around the world has grown from 100 in 2011 to 6,000.

After looking at several designs, Melenberg built his from scratch. “I liked the challenge to build something with my hands,” he said. “There’s something therapeutic about it.”

But it was more than that. Melenberg was aware that a Little Free Library would provide a way to get neighbors to meet and talk and feel more comfortable with each other.

As Melenberg explained, “A Little Free Library is not just about reading, it’s about meeting and engaging with your neighbors too. You can come and browse the titles, choose a book that catches your fancy, and take it home. No strings attached. But once you’ve tried it, well, it calls you back, and you want to give back. Next time you’ll drop off a book that you want to share. Take a book, leave a book. And in the sharing you might meet others who have come to do the same.”

Melenberg placed his Little Free Library in front of his house. “I expect my official sign in the mail any day now,” he said. Only the fourth Little Free Library in the city of Calgary, it is registered with www.littlefreelibrary.org.

“Check it out and take up the challenge,” Melenberg said. “Who knows, building and reading might lead to singing and eating with your neighbors.”

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