take a book; leave a book

Walk quickly by the Parkside Free Library on Parkside Avenue, and you might think it’s a small building for dolls. Instead, it houses books.

Jim Stein, Fernwood Avenue, built the free outdoor lending library last fall for his family and neighbors to contribute to and enjoy. He designed the wooden structure, which sits on a post and stands about five feet tall, to look like a miniature library.

Everyone is welcome to stop by and swap old books for fresh reads. “It’s a take a book, leave a book, sort of thing,” Stein says.

Stein positioned the library in front of his neighbors’ house, a few blocks from his home, where he thinks it will see more traffic than it would on Fernwood. An avid reader, Stein was inspired to take on the project by his wife’s and two daughters’ love of reading.

P1000455Stein drives a lot for his job at Columbia Gas and has passed several other small outdoor lending libraries. “I thought it’d be fun to do in our neighborhood, for the kids, and the adults too,” he says.

Although many of the books are for children, some titles are sentimental for adults. Stein took his sister to see his project, where she found The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill, originally published in 1964. “She read [“The Pushcart War”] when she was a kid. She’s 56 now,” Stein says. “She liked it and said I should read it, so I will and I’ll put it back when I’m done.”

Stein has received positive feedback and his neighbors even hosted a kickoff party to celebrate the library’s opening. “I hope that a lot of young kids and adults get to enjoy reading the books,” Stein says. “Go grab a free book and read it!”

Photos by Sally Bucey