By Mike Bisceglia
Seacoast Scene , September 11, 2013
HAMPTON - It could easily be located in The Shire or in the Thousand Acre Wood, but Little Free Library #7874, a former maple tree, is located right in the heart of Hampton, NH!
"It was getting in the way of the telephone lines, so the local utility company wanted to take it down," Lynn Blume, "stewardess" of Hampton's newest hot spot, said about the tree. "Coincidently, about the same time, my husband, Gerhard, and I had been discussing the likelihood of placing a Little Free Library somewhere in the yard."
"I was mowing the lawn around the tree, and then the idea came to me," said Gerhard. "We don't have to build anything. It's already here! Lynn liked the idea and things started to roll in a hurry."
"I knew the utility company was coming to take the down the tree, so I quickly made up a sign and fastened it to the tree," said Lynn. "The sign said, 'Dear Utility, If you think you need to chop me down, please leave eight feet of me. I am about to become a Little Free Library! Isn't that awesome?' People saw the sign and became excited, although I'm not really sure how the utility people reacted to the request."
"The tree was cut, but I shaped up the top," said Gerhard. "Then, after mapping out the spaces for the shelves, I began the cutting. Shortly, I was able to place books inside of the tree. I then realized I would have to make deeper cuts, so I placed the books on the lawn and went to fetch my chainsaw. When I returned, people were placing the books back inside of the tree, and wondering what kind of fool would place perfectly good books on the ground. They were already taking responsibility for the Library!"
"My kids got involved and helped to complete the roof, an open decoupage book. On the front cover is the title, Once upon a Time. On the rear cover is the conclusion, And, They Lived Happily Ever After. The library was my husband's gift to me on our thirtieth anniversary . . . that, and a diamond necklace," said Blume, laughingly.
"The Library isn't finished yet," said Gerhard, an electrical engineer. "We're still working toward installing lights and curved glass doors for the shelves. It is finitely a work in progress."
"The Little Free Library belongs to everyone. Anyone can use it. It offers a way to share the good things we read," said Lynn. "It gives books a second, or, maybe, third chance in life. This tree is designed so that people, from youngsters to oldsters, can easily find a book to suit their fancy."
The mission of Little Free Library is simply to promote literacy and love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide, and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.
The history of the program goes back to Lutie Stearns, a true pioneer. From 1895 to 1914, she traveled tens of thousands of miles in a horse-drawn wagon filled with Little Libraries. Her only motivation was to help people to enhance their lives through reading.
Lynn Blume, much like Lutie Stearns, is a consummate "bookie" and concerned citizen. When not assisting customers at the Book Outlet in North Hampton, Lynn can most likely be found at Hampton's Lane Memorial Library preparing for the next Friends book sale.
"I've been a Friend for ten years and on the Friends' Board of Directors for five years," said Blume. "Who doesn't love the Library?"
Peggy Chidester, and dogs, Seamus and Zack, appear ready to make a withdrawal
at the Little Free Library while speaking with the library's steward, Lynn Blume
When not assisting at the Library, Lynn and Gerhard are busily involved as Pease Greeters. "We help to make sure incoming and outgoing servicemen and servicewomen have a free book in their gift bags. Marshall Miller at the Book Exchange is very good about seeing to it that folks keep finding the wonder in books. I know the military people we meet really appreciate him."
Amanda Reynolds-Cooper, Director of the Lane Memorial Library sees the Little Free Library as a welcome addition in the book world of Hampton.
"It is just another wonderful way to connect people to books," said Reynolds-Cooper. "I believe such a library would be a terrific idea to add to our grounds. Now, if we only had a carpenter to help build one . . . "
"The Little Free Library #7874 is the second in the state of New Hampshire. The other is located in Exeter," said Blume. The organization would like to see 10,000 such libraries in use around the world. No doubt, that will become a reality soon enough. I think that the project is the perfect gift that keeps on giving. It would be a perfect project for an Eagle Scout. Could another such library work in Hampton? Most definitely . . . without a doubt! The response to this one has been overwhelming. I almost never have to add a book to the tree. The books are coming in almost magically every night. I suppose our resident library fairy really is working her magic. I say, 'the more libraries, the merrier.' I'm sure the fairy would agree!"