by Laura Damon-Moore

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It’s sort of amazing that we’ve been around for (gah) 3+ years and haven’t written much about our friends over at Little Free Library. Surely you’ve seen one – mailbox-sized book boxes with room for a selection of books that are free to take and swap and share. Many of these Little Libraries are beautiful as artworks in and of themselves. But I’m intrigued about the possibilities that these little book boxes hold, especially when it comes to artistic inspiration. After all, there’s no telling what you’ll find in a Little Library, is there?

With that in mind, we bring you a new monthly series that’s all about making art, making stories, even making performances based on Little Libraries. Some of our exercises and ideas are related to the stuff that’s in the Little Libraries. Others are tied to the libraries themselves. But either way, we hope you’ll find a Little Library close to you (or far!) and try some of these out. And we hope that you’ll share them with us, by posting them to our Facebook page or sending in photos of your Little Library-inspired art to our email: libraryasincubatorproject@gmail.com.

Now. On to the good stuff. Here are a handful of prompts to get you started in this new Spark: Little Free Library series. Note: you’ll probably want a notebook and a pencil or a pen to do these exercises. 

  1. Have you found your nearest Little Library? Good. Examine it. Take note of what’s inside the Little Library, and what’s outside of it, too. Where is it located – in a yard, a park, by a path? Imagine this Little Library at night, at 1:00 or 2:00  in the morning. Who do you think would visit this particular Little Library at that time of night? Why? What are they looking for – if anything? Write down your ideas in your notebook. Draw a picture to accompany one of your ideas.
  2. Close your eyes and pull out a book from the Little Library. Open your eyes. Remember, you can take this book with you if you would like. What is the title of this book? What is the cover like? Is it old or new? Read the first few pages. Smell the book. Does it have writing in it? Where do you think this book came from? Who was its most recent owner? What is this book’s story? Write down your findings and ideas in your notebook. Draw a map of a possible route that the book took to get to this Little Library.
  3. If the book you used for Exercise #2 is a chapter book, turn to one of the chapters in the middle of the book and search for a good “first sentence.” A sentence that gets your brain thinking and compels you to continue the story, in your own words, from that “first sentence.” If the book you picked is too short, or if there are no sentences in it that interest you, go back to the Little Library and find a new book to use. Write your story in your notebook for however long it interests you. And then write two more paragraphs.

We hope you find the exercises in the Spark: Little Free Library series interesting and inviting. Once again, you are invited to share a page or two from your Spark notebook with us, on Facebook, on Twitter (tag to use is #sparkLFL). Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Sidenote: There’s a neat Kickstarter campaign under way that involves a tandem bicycle, poetry, and libraries of the “little” and the brick-and-mortar variety. Check it out.

Special thanks to Rick Brooks and Megan Hanson of Little Free Library for their support and cross-promotion of this series! 

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