SYCAMORE – Kids at Mason Court Apartments lined up Tuesday for a peek at the new library in their own backyard – literally.
The Jerry L. Johns Literacy Clinic partnered with Little Free Library, an independent organization promoting free access to books, to open its seventh little library Tuesday at Mason Court Apartments, 275 N. Cross St., Sycamore. Once the ribbon was cut and the door opened, tiny hands reached blindly in pursuit of the perfect book. Minutes later, the children emerged with their prizes: copies of “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief,” “Harry Potter” and “Goosebumps.”
“The idea is just to have a library that’s accessible to people who might not be able to make it to their public library or be able to buy books and to kind of set that fire for reading,” Jerry L. Johns Literacy Clinic outreach coordinator James “Twigz” McGuire said.
Throughout the county, books are piled into donated Daily Chronicle newsstands, and borrowed using the honor system. Other locations include AB Supermarket, 1612 Sycamore Road, DeKalb; Flamingo Ice Cream Inc., 1029 Pleasant St., DeKalb; Gideon Court Apartments, 1325 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb; and University Village Apartments, 722 N. Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb.
“The purpose is to spread the love of books and reading throughout the community,” Jerry L. Johns Literacy Clinic Director Laurie Elish-Piper said. “This library was created by the community for the community.”
The first Little Free Library was erected as a handmade memorial in 2009. Today, there are more than 36,000 registered Little Free Library locations nationwide.
“The philosophy behind it is just that there are these free books, you can take them, read them and return them, but if you love that book, you can just keep it,” McGuire said. “But then the hope is that you have benefited, and would give back. So find a book that you love, put it in there and hope someone else gets it.”
Nine-year-old Leticia Galvan loves her new little library, but when she finishes “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief,” she’ll likely bring it back, since she isn’t emotionally ready to part with any of her own books, she said.
“I really like that movie and I always want to watch it over and over again,” Galvan said. “And I also like books of movies like Ariel and Cinderella.”
Little libraries aren’t just for little readers, either. McGuire does his best to stock each box for the entire spectrum of readers, he said. Each location starts out with an inventory of infant literacy, to young adult, fiction and nonfiction. Eventually, though, the libraries begin to reflect their community’s interests, McGuire said.
“It kind of varies between the different locations,” he said. “Spanish-speaking books go super fast by The Flamingo, but AB Supermarket is usually adult readers. Whenever I put out an adult novel, it’s always gone.”
Since a majority of the books are donated to the literacy clinic by friends, community members, local libraries, and the DeKalb-Sycamore Bookcase Project, McGuire is constantly updating each library’s inventory, he said.
Donations can be made in person at the clinic, 3100 Sycamore Road, DeKalb, or arranged by phone at 815-753-1416.