The Menlo Park Library is launching a new pilot program to partner with local homeowners to boost residents' access to books.
Starting this month, people will be able to apply to have a "Little Free Library" box installed in front of their home for free if they agree to maintain the wooden box and keep it supplied with books.
The Little Free Library program operates on an honor-based, take-one-leave-one philosophy.
The number of book-sharing boxes that will be available for installation depends on funding for the initiative. At this point, about half of the funding for the pilot program has been approved by the Menlo Park Library Foundation. Consideration of funding the second half of the costs is scheduled for a meeting of the Friends of the Menlo Park Library on Jan. 14, according to Sean Reinhart, interim library services director.
According to Reinhart, a number of community members, some of whom have already installed Little Free Libraries in front of their homes, wanted to encourage others to install the boxes.
"In general, the idea here would be to incentivize or prioritize sites that are adjacent to parks, schools, .... gathering areas, (and) thoroughfares," Reinhart said.
The Menlo Park Library Commission, which has provided guidance for the program, would also likely give greater consideration to areas that don't currently have Little Free Libraries or are far from the main Menlo Park and Belle Haven branch libraries.
According to Kristen Leep, chair of the Library Commission, the commission has been talking about Little Free Libraries for over a year, since commissioner Jacqui Cebrian introduced the concept. "They seem like a great way to fill in the gaps in communities that aren't close to libraries, especially in areas where children tend to struggle with literacy," she said in an email.
"We were thrilled to encourage the Library to move forward with it," she added.
There are more than 75,000 book-sharing boxes in 88 countries; 15 are currently registered in Menlo Park, according to the Little Free Library website, https://littlefreelibrary.org/ littlefreelibrary.org.