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Little free library blooms on Washington and Lewis, Batavia

By Howard B. Owens

Jen Reardon loves books and wants to encourage people to read more, so she set up a little free library in front of her house on the corner of Washington Avenue and Lewis Avenue.

She got the idea after learning about a web site called In fact, she bought her brightly colored box from the web site. The site also tracks locations of little free libraries, and hers is the first one registered in Genesee County.

"I knew of nothing in area, at least on the map, so why not do this?" Reardon said. "I love books. I seem to always have lots of readers around me with lots of books and they're like, 'what can I do these,' so I thought we'll put them out and let people take a book, leave a book."

That's the whole concept of the little free library right there -- there's no fee, no library card to sign up for, you take a book and leave a book. Return what you take whenever you like, nor never return it if you like it that much. Just put something else in its place.

Yesterday was the first day for Reardon's little free library and quite a few people stopped and took books. Not too many have been added to the collection yet.

"Yesterday was a busy day at the little free library," Reardon said. "There was definitely more borrowing than trading, but since it's the first day, I don't think people really knew what to make of it."

Reardon already has one of the most colorful front yards in Batavia, with a cornucopia of flowers growing all spring, summer and fall. Her green, orange and purple box fits right in.

Her neighborhood is perfect for something like this, Reardon believes.

"We have all income levels within like a three block area," she said.

"I think people don't read enough and some people might not have access to books. You can always go to the library, but if you have books in your home, you're more likely to pick it up and read it, kids especially.

Mary K. Lennon

What a wonderful idea! We will certainly stop by. I see a trend of "home town" happenings taking place in Batavia and I like it. Thank you so much!

Sep 25, 2014, 8:16pm Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

Kudos to Ms. Reardon. Love the concept! Right out of LHotP.

Idealistically, I picture a somewhat heated arguement between Mary, Laura and Albert, as to which one of their cherished books to share with passersby. And, the looks on their faces, as they eagerly await to see what treasures are left in their place.

(Somewhat) sadly, "This ain't 1850's Kansas, Dorothy". Color me cynical, but I liken it to the roadside vegetable/fruit stand with a cardboard box to throw your money into. Sooner or later, someone comes by and grabs the melons, the money AND the 39-cent Bic pen you placed for IOU's.

Would hope I'm wrong, but, only time will tell.

On the flip side, the house on the adjacent corner would be a great location for a trailcam. Watch the animals in their natural habitat.

Sep 25, 2014, 9:04pm Permalink
Peter O'Brien

Be careful the city doesn't deem that "trash" and tell you to clean it up or face a $250 fine.

They did that when I put a couch out with a free sign. And books can be just as much a home for vermin as a couch.

That being said I will be dumping some books in this as I never read a book twice because of the time investment.

People do know that as NY residents you can lend electronic materials from the NYC Public Library right?

Sep 25, 2014, 10:13pm Permalink
Dave Olsen

Ed, I happen to know of a roadside vegetable stand that operates on the honor system and the people have put it out every year for a long long time. I don't imagine they would do that if it got ripped off a lot. I'm not going to share the location on here as there are some low-lifes in this world, but I believe they are a small minority. People in general are honest and respectful. Sadly the bad apples get more notoriety. The belief that the bad ones are winning is why we have so many ridiculous laws and rules and all the expense thereof. Maybe if we as a society believed more in people, we would also be freer.

Sep 26, 2014, 6:15am Permalink
Phil Ricci

True words, Dave.

I hear a lot of negativity, lots of complaining, but if everything was as bad as so many would have you believe, then good things like this wouldn't happen.

Call me naive, but I firmly believe that most people are inherently good, and all just trying to make it like the rest of us. I can't spend all of my time and energy looking for the bleak everywhere.

Kudos on the great idea!!!!

Sep 26, 2014, 9:05am Permalink

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