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Little Free Libraries Flourish in Manhattan Beach

Jul 12, 2015 09:59PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Chris Primm stands by her Little Free Library in Manhattan Beach

Looking for a great summer read? In Manhattan Beach, a good book is never too far away, with a growing number of Little Free Libraries sprouting up around town. 

The Little Free Library is an open book collection that operates under a "take a book, leave a book" policy, with a goal of encouraging community literacy. These independently run mini-libraries are displayed on distinctive little stands in front of homes and in public spaces. As they take root in their respective neighborhoods, the Little Free Libraries often become a popular gathering spot where books are exchanged and conversations are sparked.

"It's a very community oriented thing to do," says Kathleen Terry, who has a Little Free Library outside of her Tree Section home. 

Terry, like many Little Free Library owners, saw the concept in operation elsewhere and decided she wanted to run one too. She received a library kit as a Christmas present, decorated it, and launched what became a very successful neighborhood mini-library. 

"It's been amazing - I can't tell you the amount of turnover I have on books," says Terry. 

Chris Primm, who owns a Little Free Library in East Manhattan, started in a similar way. She decided she wanted one for Christmas and her whole family got in on the act: Her husband found building plans online, her son built it, her one daughter decorated it, and her other daughter collected the books. 

Primm, who works as the school librarian at Meadows Elementary School, says she has been thrilled with its success: "It has been very popular in our neighborhood, especially with children as they already know me from school. They are always excited to tell me that they picked up or dropped off a book at my little library. The books change frequently and I often need to restock with donations, especially the children's titles," she says. 

Little Free Libraries can also be found on city properties around Manhattan Beach thanks to Colette Grubman, who organized the program beginning in 2012 as a high school sophomore. She has since grown the Manhattan Beach program to included five Little Free Libraries on MB city property, sponsored and stewarded by local Girl Scout troops.

"Many community members use the city Little Free Libraries on a regular basis," says Grubman. "People have embraced the program, and I feel [it] has succeeded in spreading literacy throughout the city."

The Little Free Libraries do not cost anything to operate, except for the time and effort to collect and manage book collections. However, to be a certified member of the Little Free Library national network, library owners pay a one-time fee of $40 to be listed in the directory and to receive support materials. 

Little Free Libraries can be found in Manhattan Beach at the following locations:

Public locations on city property:
Marine Park
Manhattan Heights Community Center
Joslyn Center
Two in the Civic Plaza (between the new library and police station)

Private locations: 
2nd and John 
14th and Pine 
30th and Flournoy 
15th and Manzanita
21st and Peck

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