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Glenville couple start little free library

Glenville couple start little free library

On any given day there’s an assortment of books to pick from
Glenville couple start little free library
Eileen and John Sowa stand next to their little library outside their Glenville home.
Photographer: Indiana Nash/Gazette reporter

One Glenville neighborhood just got a bit more literary, thanks to one couple.

John and Eileen Sowa of Willow Lane have recently created a mini-community library right in their front yard.

Rifling through it on any given day there’s an assortment of books to pick from - several children’s chapter books, a travel guide, a few memoirs and even a Spanish dictionary.

Strongly scented cedar wood lines the top of the box, while plexiglass gives a glimpse to the treasures inside. It’s decorated with a wood-burned sign that proclaims “Bookhouse - help yourself,” with an owl illustration next to it.

“Sowa in Polish means owl,” John said.

He built the Bookhouse over the last few months, using some leftover building materials he had and modeling the box after a birdhouse. It’s a bit over four feet tall, with a plexiglass window that's the perfect height for kids to peer into. The Sowa’s neighborhood is quiet, home to plenty of young families and plenty of walkers, joggers, and runners, making it the perfect place to stumble upon a mini-library. 

Though their library isn't registered with the Little Free Library organization, the idea certainly stems off of the national non-profit. These have popped up in Niskayuna, Clifton Park, Schenectady and across the Capital Region. Usually, with Little Free Library's, neighbors take a book and leave a book.

But it’s a bit different for the Sowas.

Eileen is a voracious reader, finishing several books a week. She typically devours mysteries, historical fiction, fiction, and everything in between.

“My mom was a reader,” Eileen said. She passed that love on to her daughter, Cathy, who is a reading instructor in Amsterdam. The Sowas are also part of a walking group and Eileen is always asked for recommendations on what to read next. She’s point person in the group for everything literary-related.

But there’s a problem with reading so many books: where to put them. Thus, it only seemed fitting to start a little library where walkers and neighbors could take a book (perhaps one that Eileen had just finished) and leave one or two of their own.

They’ve already had people stop by to drop off books and they’ve had several people ask about it.

“One of my favorite books growing up was ‘Heidi,’” Eileen said. She put a copy of the book on the very first day the Sowas installed the library. Soon after, a neighbor’s daughter stopped by and was overjoyed to find it.

“She said it was her grandmother’s favorite book too,” Eileen said. She thoughtfully gifted it to her grandmother.

The couple has also seen kids from Willow Lane and beyond stop by with their bikes or scooters, just to check out the library. It’s the perfect neighborhood for it, quiet with not too much traffic.

With school letting out for the summer recess, foot and bike traffic will definitely pick up in the next few weeks and the Sowas hope that walkers and cyclists will stop by and grab a book or two for their summer reads. They don't expect people to bring the books back or even to donate some of their own.

They just want the neighborhood to have fun with it. 

“Just [to have] people pick up books and enjoy themselves,” Eileen said.

To see other local Little Free Library's, visit littlefreelibrary.org

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