During his summer vacation, Jim Bailey built a library in his front yard.
He and his wife, Liz, live on a small corner lot at 501 Glen Ave., but space wasn’t a problem, because this library is just a little bit bigger than a mailbox. It sits on a post like a mailbox too, but inside the little white structure you won’t find any bills — just books. And they’re all free for the taking.
The Baileys’ library is a Little Free Library, one of over 6,000 found in cities and towns around the world, and the first in Scotia. Theirs is stocked with books for kids from preschool age on up.
It opened for business just in time for back-to-school, when all sorts of kids walk by on their way to Sacandaga Elementary School and Scotia-Glenville High School and Middle School.
“What I love about the Little Free Library is there’s no strings attached to it. People can take the books, they can return the books if they want but they don’t have to, so it’s a very liberating kind of giving experience,” said Liz Bailey, who’s a librarian at Okte Elementary School in the Shenendehowa Central School District.
The library’s only been open for business a few weeks, but it’s already had plenty of customers. Books have been taken and new books have appeared. A new-looking hardcover copy of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is one recent addition from an unknown donor.
As a school librarian, Liz Bailey said she’s constantly being asked by friends, neighbors and parents of students if she can accept book donations.
“I hate saying no because I know there’s someone who could use a book but there are only so many books you can put in a school library,” she said. “This way I can say yes and they can be used and people can take them; they can leave books of their own, but they don’t have to. It’s a no-strings-attached community give-back.”
People have visited the library during the day and at night, with flashlights, Jim Bailey said.
One of the first customers was a 2-year-old who couldn’t quite reach the books, so now there’s a green wooden step stool waiting nearby.
The little library looks a lot like the Baileys’ house. In fact, it sports the same green shingles, left over from when Jim Bailey reroofed their home. The library’s siding was made from some old pieces of pine he had laying around, and he rescued the girders and post from someone’s trash.
The nonprofit Little Free Library organization encourages the use of as many recycled materials as possible, Liz Bailey noted.
Jim Bailey’s construction skills are evident in the lovely little library he built, but anyone can create their own, his wife insisted.
“It’s a box with a door. On their website, they say some people have even made them out of microwaves. It can be as simple or complex as you want it to be.”
The Baileys have lived in Scotia for most of their adult lives, and said they thought hosting the library was a perfect way to give back to their community. They have two grown children who are preparing to move out soon, and this seemed like the right time to make the addition to their property, Liz Bailey said.
“It helps with the empty nest transition to see children outside your home enjoying books,” she explained.