Bernadette Reamer is a junior in a senior seminar but this doesn’t faze her one bit. In fact she likes the opportunity to take the 9 person seminar, which focuses on crystallizing the knowledge learned through years of study and articulating skills. Many of the seniors in the class already have jobs lined up, but Bernadette is excited about the tools the class is giving her to move forward, with an extra emphasis on professionalization before she needs to enter the job world.
As a double major in Language, Literature and Writing, as well as English Linguistics, Bernadette is excited to have a class focused on making her skills more marketable. She wants to become a proof reader, and is currently making inroads at the Toledo Zoo this summer.
As part of her seminar, Bernadette had to create a capstone project. She eventually set out to create a Little Free Library, after being inspired by the red telephone box on campus. The libraries are just about everywhere. Detroit in particular is full of them. Bernadette said, “There is one on a beach, another in the last couple rows of a vineyard. I really like the interesting mixture of spaces. I’ve seen one re-purposed red phone box turned into a library, and that image inspired me to do this.”
The Little Free Libraries movement is a recent one. Started in Hudson, WI in 2009, the first library was a model of one room schoolhouse designed in honor of the creator’s mother who was a teacher. It works like a take a penny leave a penny jar. The library is open to all and the only rule is to take a book, you leave a different book. It can really be any book, but the Mirco Library in Downing Hall is dedicated to fiction. The reason for this is simple, Bernadette explains, “We have such a great academic library in Halle with rows upon rows and floor upon floor of non- fiction, I thought it’d be a good idea to get some fiction available a little closer to campus. “I know many people don’t have a car, I don’t. I hate having to ride the bus all the way to the public library, get a card just to have a ‘relaxing’ read.”
The Little Free Libraries movement is growing. In 2013, there were 400 new libraries around the world registered online. BY the end of 2014, it was closer to 20, 000. IT costs $25 to register, and this is one of the next steps in securing the future and growth of the Downing Micro Library.
Micro Libraries can take on almost any shape. The original was in the shape of a one room schoolhouse, and they can be indoors or outdoors. The original site sells kits for one room school house style/ blueprints- but they also encourage themed libraries. Some have been a science fiction filled TARDIS or a hollowed out log to fit a more natural scene. One of the other popular styles involves reclaimed material. This is what Bernadette did. She used an old shelf from IKEA, painted the inside and outside with an EMU theme and filled it with some of her old books. She explains, “My sister and I had lots of older books, and I wanted to make sure they got good use. This fit in so well with my capstone project and the things I was looking at, I figured this would be perfect.”
So far the library has been a success. There are new books there already, and very few people know about the site plus with the end of the semester upon us, very few students have the luxury of extra reading time. The books aren’t going anywhere, so Bernadette recommends that all students stop by the first floor lounge in Downing Hall across form Pray Harrold. You can find out more about the project by following it on twitter (@DowningMicroLib) , or like them on Facebook (facebook.com/EMUDowningMicroLibrary). Happy reading!