Gina Florez did not make a sudden decision to become the librarian for a little free library. It was more like an idea that wouldn’t go away.
Her dad had been a newspaper guy through and through. He worked for the Pittsburgh Press for ages, and the newspaper boxes repurposed as neighborhood book exchanges made her feel nostalgic.
On top of that, physical pages like those found in books are her business as proprietor of Paper Reign in the Beverly Road business district, where she sells stationery, invitations and all other necessities born of pulp.
Then her mother-in-law’s joy at finding book treasures on long walks during a visit was the last straw. Who doesn’t love devouring a new book page by page, then passing it on? There can never be too many chances to feel that.
So last July, Gina convinced her husband, Gerson, to put one in their front yard on Osage Road. Minus his sprained ankle, the process went well, so she followed through on her impulse to connect her past and present.
She found an old newspaper box, painted and stocked it, then gave it a home on the sidewalk in front of her store. She even added sidewalk chalk for young artists (and those young at heart) to add whimsy to the experience of picking out books, or dropping some off, on Overlook Drive.
Now, she haunts thrift stores to sate the endless demand for children’s books at her two locations and tosses in best sellers for good measure. Her son, Xavier, helps her tend the books and donates some of his own.
Patrons who want a sneak peek at the Florez family’s current supply of novels and cookbooks, or whatever else the neighborhood dropped by, can follow Our Osage Little Library on Facebook for photos and book memes.
Perhaps they’ll be inspired to donate a book, or make their own little free library, or pilgrimage to each of the map points in Mt. Lebanon where someone like Gina took the time to share a few pages and a bit of their time.
*Map available at www.littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/