Morley’s second Little Free Library has been erected on the end of Middleton Road, thanks to community fundraising.
Originally organised by Carry Franklin in Headingley in Leeds city centre in 2017, Free Little Libraries have exploded all across the city, with over fifty available to the public.
Inspired by the gesture of kindness by Franklin, Lou Bentley decided to set up her own for the community in Morely. Bentley said “I feel like I got into the Free Little Library’s a bit late. I waited a while for one to be placed in the area but after a few months of waiting, I got in touch with Carry who was amazing. She gave me some really good fundraising ideas in order to afford to commission a box.”
The Little Free Libraries work by donating your own books and taking ones from the box that you would like to read, either keeping the books or returning them again for other people to read.
The good thing about the Little Free Libraries is that they not only inspire community spirit and promote reading but they are hand-built by local people and are custom painted by local artists, who get paid a fair amount for their work. Bentley said: “It is important to support local artists and pay them a fair wage, so being able to raise the money to pay the artists for their work was really great.”
Hew Ma, a freelance illustrator, designer and artist, was commissioned to paint the library, who designed a stunning hyperrealistic floral design on a black background. Ma has also recently been commissioned to paint murals on communication boxes across Morely town.
In 2018, Bentley had raised half the amount of money needed to pay for the Little Library and received a micro-grant from the Leeds Community Foundation to pay for the rest.
The library was so well received that Bentley decided to fundraise for a second community book exchange box and raised a massive £500 in the space of a couple of days. “Initially, I was worried about the library being vandalised or not being looked after properly but the original library has been so well received that I decided that a second library could be implemented in the area, so I put one at the bottom of my garden!”
Bentley went on to say: “The sense of community around the library has been lovely. Since everyone has chipped in, people really feel proud and part of a group. We try not to curate the library, since there is a diverse group of people who use the library, there is a natural mix of books including fiction and non-fiction, kids books, and biographies.
“The community has been really generous, if there is a lack of books because people have used it heavily over the past few days, we will pop a message up on Facebook and people will come and donate to the box.”
You can check where your nearest Little Free Library by checking this map here.