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WHAT DO YOU GET when you cross a bent for frugality, a love of reading, and a longing for a sense of community? In increasing numbers, the answer is a Little Free Library. It's a globe-sweeping trend that has come as close to Fredericksburg as Mineral.
A Little Free Library is a quirky little box set up somewhere in community and stocked with books. Passersby are urged to "take one and leave one." The idea began with one man, Todd Bol, who placed a box filled with books on a pole in his Wisconsin front yard in 2009. His purpose was simply to share his love of books and encourage reading among his neighbors. People loved the idea.
Then along came a University of Wisconsin expert in youth and community development, Rick Brooks, who recognized the Little Free Library's potential for building community and increasing literacy. Together, he and Mr. Bol developed a kit, which participants could order, and also found an Amish carpenter willing to construct the little library boxes in different shapes.
The idea caught on. Now there are over 3,000 Little Free Libraries around the world, even in places as remote as Ghana and Nigeria. They are not replacements for public libraries, but a do-it-yourself supplement to them.
The website littlefreelibrary.org features a locator map for the whimsical little boxes. The closest one to the 'Burg is in Mineral. Next trip to Lake Anna, check it out--and take a book with you. The box might just contain one you've been dying to read.