GILROY—A new library opened in Gilroy—but to check out a book you won’t need a library card. You just take a book and return it when you can.
The city’s first free “tiny library” officially opened Saturday after nine months of planning, painting and construction. It was built and paid for by building owner Gary Walton.
Located downtown adjacent to O D’s Kitchen on Martin Street, the library consists of a book cabinet the size of a dog house placed in front of a mural depicting various characters from Dr. Seuss books. The cabinet, filled with children’s material, is open for anyone to take or deposit a book.
“I was thinking about what we could do to improve the street here,” said Walton. “I’ve been adding flower pots and benches for people to sit. I hoped that it would give the kids something to do and we’re really promoting literacy in a fun way.”
Walton came up with the idea after seeing children and their parents waiting to be seated at the restaurants that line downtown. He chose Dr. Seuss characters as a way to attract children to books.
Local artist Scott Lance got the commission. Lance’s mural of a giant train is across the street at Fifth and Monterey.
“I thought it was important, since it is an homage to [Dr. Seuss] and not me, to express the illustrations in the same way he drew them,” Lance said.
The library is registered with the Little Free Library organization which promotes reading and community book sharing. The organization was started in 2009 and since then thousands of micro-libraries have popped up around the world, all operating on the honor system. The Gilroy Free Tiny Library is registered as number 25,130.
Walton teamed up with the Friends of the Gilroy Library and Vision Literacy, a nonprofit group that helps adults become literate. Both organizations donated materials for the library, which will be monitored by a volunteer who will keep out inappropriate books.
“I think it’s a cool idea,” said Gilroy librarian Lani Yoshimura. “People think libraries are dead, but they are not. We are busier than ever. It’s nice to see faces buried not in a smartphone but in a book.”
Next to the library is a poster listing reasons for parents to read to their children. The poster, designed by Frank Hernandez, the South County director for Vision Literacy, is aimed at fostering children’s curiosity.
“The vision that we have is for this to not be the only one but to actually turn this into a reader’s town,” Hernandez said. “One of the parents can sit down and read, and not only bond with their kids but actually build that essence that is required for kids to learn the habit of reading.”
The Friends of the Gilroy Library and Vision Literacy have accumulated thousands of donated books to maintain the library for years to come. There are enough books to create another tiny library in the future.
“Children need to hear a lot of language before they can ever really speak,” executive director for Vision Literacy Pat Lawson-North said. “What we do for adults impacts two generations or more.”