My Space

In the latest in our series on people and their favorite places, Meg Johnson shares a piece of her yard that is building community and helping literacy: a free mini library. Story and photos by Gabby Ferreira.


 "I first saw Little Free Library on Facebook and thought, 'What a really unique idea for building community.' And it does more than just spread literacy, it does build community. Unquestionably it's become a focal point in our neighborhood.

"It was immediately love at first sight. I like it being outdoors. I mean you see that 'leave a book, take a book' kind of thing at the doctor's office or at a hotel, but not outside where anybody can access it.

"Being near the center of Tucson, we have a high number of rentals, especially south of us. I just thought it would be a way to ground people to an area and make them feel like it's a neighborhood rather than just loose random houses with strangers in them that you don't know. And it's helped a lot with that.


Meg Johnson, whose yard has become a focal point in the community

"Our neighborhood is the Garden District. It's a one-square mile neighborhood and our section here has the highest percentage of homeowners, but across Pima there are high numbers of rentals and a large population of people living below the poverty line. I knew that at [our neighborhood school] Wright Elementary, with 100% of the  kids on free and reduced lunch, which means living below the poverty line, they would not have books in their homes. A lot of those kids walk past my house on the way to school, so I thought it would be a neat way to get books into their hands.


The inside of the 'library' is lined with the pages of old dictionaries

"We talked about different places to put it and it just seemed perfect with the shade there and views north, south east and west. I love that corner of my yard, because of the tree. That mesquite tree grew from seed. It's a rather large space and always seemed to need something more done with it.

"My friend Judy Ostermeyer is the artist, architect, and the builder. I supplied the deep pockets and helped. I spent about $100 on it; we already had some of the materials, like the doors and the roof. It was fun when we were putting it in. We had neighbors constantly coming by. The hardest part was figuring out the roof to make sure it didn't leak.


Meg's dog is the library mascot

"I thought 'What a great focal point for positive happenings' and right under the mesquite tree in the shade with the wall there to sit on, it's perfect. One time I looked out and there was an ambulance out here and I thought 'Oh no, someone's sick!' But the paramedics were taking turns going to the little free library to get a book.

"Reading is about improving yourself, getting the job, having fun, knowing about the world, creating your own world. As a teacher and an older person I worry that paper books are going to disappear. I think the little free library created a different feeling in our neighborhood. When I send out a newsletter there's a lot about graffiti and crime and potholes and all that stuff ,whereas now we have a little free library and this is our community rather than the potholes and the crime. Our community is literacy and getting together with friends, meeting new people. And it just presents a different face to our neighborhood."

* Meg Johnson is a 2nd grade teacher and Secretary of her neighborhood association. You can learn more about Little Free Library here. Read more about Tucson's Garden District here.


Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

Speak Your Mind