Blaine neighborhood has its own book exchange

The two teenage boys could not believe what they were seeing — free books, no questions asked.

Nine-year-old Sharla Hanson watched with amusement from her bedroom window as these boys stared with puzzled expressions at the Little Free Library in front of her Blaine home.

The Hanson family May 23 installed a Little Free Library in front of their Blaine home. Pictured are Janine and Jason and their children Sharla, 9, and Anders, 6. Photo by Eric Hagen

The Hanson family May 23 installed a Little Free Library in front of their Blaine home. Pictured are Janine and Jason and their children Sharla, 9, and Anders, 6. Photo by Eric Hagen

“Do you think they’ll let us take a book?” Sharla heard one of the boys asked the other. They sat on their bikes a little longer before they mustered the courage to open the small glass-pane door to browse the selection. “They need more books for boys,” one said.

It may come as a surprise to some kids and adults, but Little Free Libraries offer a place where you can take a book to read, but are asked to return it and bring another book to share. Everything runs on the honor system. There are no librarians or even a bar code scanner; therefore, there are no due dates.

The Little Free Library idea came from Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, who installed the first in 2009. Jason saw one in Minneapolis while filming a story for KSTP TV News and the Hanson family spotted another while biking in Maple Grove.

Jason and Janine Hanson installed the 13,988th registered Little Free Library in front of their Blaine home in the 2900 block of 88th Lane NE May 23.

The Hansons put some used books in to get it started and quickly neighbors and complete strangers driving by started taking books and putting others back in return. With all the young children in the neighborhood, including their own daughter Sharla and 6-year-old son Anders, about 90 percent of the books they had within a week were children’s books.

“This is not ours. It belongs to the neighborhood,” Janine said.

Jason said he “was shocked by the response.” From the activity they have seen in front of their house and the comment book inside the Little Free Library, Janine and Jason can tell this project has been a success so far.

“This is awesome idea. I will visit often.” Alison commented.

“I added a bunch of books for fun. How AWESOME!” Claire wrote.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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