Little Free Libraries 

By Nikki Sue Alston

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”- Charles William Eliot 

Unbeknownst to many, nestled near the corner of Alvin St. and Shell Beach Drive, stands a wooden box filled with books on a post in the front yard. The sign reads “Little Free Library” and the concept is simple; take a book, return a book. This location is one of over 25,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide, with thousands more being built every year. Little Free Libraries’ mission is “to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.” The Alvin Street Charter (#23409), created by Martha Laborde, was established early 2015.

The Word of Mrs. Laborde

When asked about her Little Free Library, she said:

I saw my first Little Free Libraries in New Orleans, in my daughter’s neighborhood, and was instantly hooked! I've seen several others in Baton Rouge and couldn't wait to have them take off in Lake Charles. With help from Marco Baca, a friend and carpenter, we designed and built our Little Free Library. Marco was very patient and let me assist in construction. I learned a lot about woodworking and have an added sense of pride after putting in sweat equity! I grew up on Alvin Street, returned in 1997, and love our sense of community here. This Little Free Library was the perfect addition for our street. It's taken a couple of months for people to figure out what it is, and I’ve even been asked if it’s a fancy mailbox! I'm now seeing books rotate and more activity as people stop and check it out. I've put a small notebook inside, in hopes that people will jot a note--book related or not! As of now, we have a variety of adult novels, some classics, etc. and I plan to add some children's books to the Little Free Library when summer begins! 

Getting the Ball a' Rollin


Along with Martha Laborde, we hope the concept will spread in Lake Charles and surrounding communities, not only for the promotion of reading and literacy, but for the impact it can have in bringing a neighborhood together.  For more information and tips on building your own Little Free Library, visit . Every Little Free Library is as unique as the Stewards who built them. Martha added a dog knob as a nod to her family's love of animals, while others have built crazy shaped, colored, and themed boxes! Today, the Alvin St. Charter is the only Little Free Library registered in Lake Charles, but we all look forward to watching the worldwide map link on the Little Free Library website to see more additions to our area!

 Whether you’re driving or walking the dogs down Shell Beach Drive, stop by and check out the titles available, and remember to bring trade a book you love to share with everyone else.   

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