A program started several years ago to spread the love of reading has trickled down South into Thomasville.
In front of busy stores in Thomasville’s historic downtown are miniature houses painted in bright colors and fun patterns—pinks, and green’s blues and reds. They’re called “Little Free Libraries” and they’re situated strategically around the blocks, offering piles of books. Everything from Mitch Alboom, to Danielle Steele—and they’re there for the taking:
“We have things like book fairies who come by and put books in them. The store owners, they’ve become the keeper of those," says Darlene Crowsby Blackman, Public Art Director for the Thomasville Center for the Arts. The little houses stuffed with books appeared last year during the city’s annual public art event called FLAUNT, which promotes a cause, like recycling or, literacy. The arts community also built art work using books that were damaged.
“We did an artist competition where the artists were given books and they had to create a window installation and they could only use books to do it," she says. "It was a way to use books that would have been destroyed and we used books that were cut or missing pages. Damaged books.”
The Little Free Library Program works on a sort of honor system. The books don’t have to be checked out, like you would in a traditional library. Instead, people can walk right up, grab a book, read it, and drop it off. No deadline for return required. Sometimes, Blackman says, the books end up finding forever homes, and other times, they pop back up unexpectedly.
“Here at studio 209 where I work, we have one. Last week…I noticed it was empty and when I came in it was filled up. I don’t know who. These things happen in the night I think.”
The Little Free Libraries are now a permanent fixture in the area, but they’ll soon be joined by another art project: yellow bicycles. The bikes are already showing up around Thomasville to promote healthy living. And that will coincide with this year’s FLAUNT Focus: neighborhood revitalization. Stores, food trucks and performance art troupes and venues will begin popping up on a Thomasville neighborhood that’s seen better days.