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'Little Free Library' helping to share woman's love of reading


The “Little Free Library” has been serving Fort Frances' reading community for exactly one year now, having started up last August.

The community library acts as a book exchange, where people can drop off and pick up gently-used books that interest them.

“Little Free Library” owner JoAnne Formanek Gustafson said the library has remained self-sufficient and is booming.

The library itself is homemade, made up of a re-purposed cupboard on a fence post, and runs seasonally from the spring until late fall.

It is small in size, standing at about three-and-a-half feet tall by two feet wide, but can hold roughly 40-50 books.

The “Little Free Library” is located on the corner of Third Street East and Minnie Avenue, and receives several visits from readers in the community each week.

Formanek Gustafson often is amazed by the quality of books she finds behind the “Little Free Library's” doors.

“You just never know what gems you might find in there,” she smiled.

“Every time I look, there's something new that I've never seen or wouldn't have imagined.”

Just recently, for instances, she was overjoyed to see two copies of “The Hobbit," as well as her all-time favourite book, "Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens.

Formanek Gustafson started the library because of her passion for literature and sharing books.

“I just love the whole idea of the exchange,” she enthused.

“This is a great way to share the love of reading and redistribute books into other people's hands.”

It also allows people to have access to books that they maybe wouldn't otherwise have the means to read, Formanek Gustafson said.

“If you don't have a lot of money, buying books for your kids or getting books for yourself can be expensive,” she conceded.

Those dropping off books are asked to leave quality works that they enjoyed reading themselves.

“Please don't give me the garage sale books that nobody wanted to buy because probably no one wants them here, either,” she stressed.

For those dropping off or picking up books, there are no real restrictions so long as patrons treat the “Little Free Library” with respect.

“There's no expectation that anybody is going to bring anything back,” Formanek Gustafson explained.

“If you want to take 10 books and leave zero, that is just fine,” she remarked.

“Really, it's about sharing something that we all have too many of.”

Most people have books they already have read that they don't plan to do anything with that, in turn, could be enjoyed by others, she reasoned.

Formanek Gustafson would like to encourage other people across the district to start their own “Free Little Library,” noting it doesn't take a lot of work to make and maintain.

“It doesn't take a lot of space and it doesn't take anything fancy," she noted. ”I found an old cupboard, you could probably use a bin or something.

“It's a great way to exchange books,” she added.

Moving forward, Formanek Gustafson plans to keep the library running until the cold weather nears, in the late fall.

But folks can expect to see the “Little Free Library” returning again next year, with a set-up in the spring once the snow is gone for good.

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