You might not think to look at it, but the blue box on Sunflower Circle is groundbreaking.
It is the first Little Free Library in Royal Palm Beach, part of program with more than 700,000 locations in parks and front yards throughout the world.
The idea behind the Little Free Library is to create a “take a book, leave a book” free exchange on the neighborhood level, according to the program’s website.
Royal Palm Beach residents Erin and David Franklin have lived at their home at 167 Sunflower Circle for nine years. In that time, Erin saw her best friend Ashley Frost open a Little Free Library in front of her home in downtown Lake Worth, where the boxes have sprouted like weeds in the past few years.
After deciding to build her own Little Free Library, Erin Franklin reached out to the village for help and heard from Vice Mayor Selena Smith, who had experience with the program through Leadership Palm Beach County’s past partnership with the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County.
“I said, ‘I’ll give you whatever support I can,’” Smith said. That included helping Franklin find funding through the Children’s Services Council and the local chapter of Rotary International.
That money could come in handy as Franklin sets her sights on expanding the program in Royal Palm. “My goal is five more before next summer,” she said.
Her husband spent about a day building their library, which sits on a black post at the corner of their driveway and sidewalk in their front yard. The bright blue box is marked by vinyl sunflowers — because it sits on Sunflower Circle, of course.
It cost about $300 to make, Erin Franklin said. “If we don’t get the grant money, I want to keep going with it,” she added. “So we’ll build them ourselves.”
Since opening June 2, the box has been fully stocked thanks in large part to donations from teachers. “I haven’t bought one book,” Franklin said.
She plans to keep a rotating selection of children and young adult books on the bottom shelf, with enough space on the top shelf for four or five novels or magazine for adults. On a recent visit, there were books from the Harry Potter, Goosebumps and Magic Treehouse series, along with the classic “Charlotte’s Web” by E. B. White and more than a dozen other children’s books.
The series are popular with the Franklins’ sons, ages 10 and 12. The couple’s 1 1/2-year-old daughter isn’t old enough to enjoy the novels, but the boys already are looking for books to satisfy their summer reading lists, Erin Franklin said. “They think it’s really cool,” she said.
They spent about $40 registering their library through the Little Free Library organization and obtaining a shiny silver plate to affix to the box’s south-facing side. It carries the Little Free Library logo and the registration number for the Franklins’ library: No. 73235.
Erin Franklin said she is eager to see where books go after their leave her library. She bought a stamp with her registration number on it and hopes people will reach out to her as the books “travel.” The family also plans to tour Little Free Libraries when they visit St. Augustine this summer.
Smith said Royal Palm Beach residents who want to start their own Little Free Library should reach out to community development director Robert Hill at 561-790-5178. While the Franklins did not need a permit because their library does not impede on a right-of-way, Smith said Hill and his team can help make sure residents “abide by all requirements.”
In Wellington, the one official Little Free Library is in the Meadow Wood neighborhood. Patti Thomas is the “happy steward” of the box in front of her home at 15320 Meadow Wood Drive.
It opened at the end of August, just before Hurricane Irma hit. “I took the library part off of the post and tucked it away in my garage,” Thomas said. “The post stood firm.”
Assistant village manager Jim Barnes said Wellington residents who would like to start a Little Free Library can reach out to him at 561-791-4085 for more information on any requirements or permits necessary.
There are dozens of Little Free Libraries in Palm Beach County, with many in West Palm Beach and Lake Worth, a map on the Little Free Library website shows.
While Wellington has a “reading corner” at Scott’s Place Playground and take-a-book, leave-a-book boxes at several neighborhood parks, the Little Free Libraries managed by Thomas and the Franklins are the only official locations in the western communities.
Maybe you can be the next resident to open a Little Free Library in your front yard?
Little Free Libraries
For more information about the Little Free Library organization, including how to register and build your own, go to www.littlefreelibrary.org.