The Sassy Sandpiper: Lealman’s Little Free Library™
Once designed to be a “Care Cabinet” to help nourish people’s physical needs, the old newspaper bin now helps nourish minds and imaginations.
By M.R. WILSON, Columnist, TB Reporter
LEALMAN – It ain’t easy being No. 2. Even harder being No. 3.
If the recycled newspaper vending bin could talk, it would have quite a tale to tell. There are parts of it one can only imagine, but here’s what happened next in a story that began in mid-November at Raymond H. Neri Community Park.
Miss Steward, a fictitious name requested by the Lealman resident mentioned in the column above, didn’t want to think of the “Care Cabinet” (confiscated from the park by a ranger) ending up in a county dumpster. After discussing its fate with Assistant County Administrator Chris Moore, Steward asked that it be surrendered to her personally. Thus the ill-fated Care Cabinet began its transformation into a Little Free Library™. (Little Free Libraries™ allow users to take a book [no need to return it] or leave a book for others.)
For brevity’s sake, the condensed version: The vending bin was mistaken for scrap and carted off by a neighbor. It was indeed banged up quite a bit since its glory days at the park; Miss Steward had wrapped it in a large lawn and leaf bag and placed it well beyond the usual donation site for salvageable items. Bin returned after frantic inquiries and embarrassed apologies. Steward wrapped it again, this time in an old blue blanket and attached a sign reading “COMING SOON! Little Free Library™.” Rain poured down that night and ruined the sign, but the bin stood its ground.
Over the next week, the official sign including its Charter Number 96664, a new paint job, and the first set of books taken from Miss Steward’s own vast collection completed the metamorphosis. Lealman’s Little Free Library™ opened for business at 4037 43rd Ave. N.
“It still needs some spiffing up,” Steward said, “so I decorated it with branches cut from my pine trees and set a basket of Christmas tree ornaments on top. No one wanted them. The next day, I put out a basket of school supplies. I went out later to feed the neighborhood cats and found a pile of books on the ground. I thought, ‘Someone left a donation!’ But it was my books on the ground. Someone had looked through them, emptied the Library, and taken the school supplies—all of them—basket and all.”
Steward expects more surprises given human nature, but believes in “continuing to put the good out there.”
Two other Little Free Libraries™ serve the Lealman area at the Pinellas Sheriff’s PAL facilities located at 3755 46th Ave. N and 3875 54th Ave. N. Steward admits a little disappointment at “being number three, but I’ll just try harder. It’s not a competition, anyway. You can never have enough free books. That’s the old teacher coming out in me.”
Little Free Library™ is a nonprofit organization describing itself as “the largest grassroots book-sharing network in the world.” Donations are much appreciated and help build stronger communities and improve literacy. Visit littlefreelibrary.org/donate.
M.R. Wilson | Sassy Sandpiper | Lealman | LIttle Free Library | Tampabay News | News Tampa
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