Mesa slates Little Library raffle this month The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa slates Little Library raffle this month

January 12th, 2021 Mesa Tribune Staff
Mesa slates Little Library raffle this month
Mesa
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TRIBUNE NEWS STAFF

Mesa is giving residents a chance to win their own Free Little Library.

The city’s Little Libraries program is raffling one library in each council district as part of a special project for the Love Your City Day to celebrate neighborhoods.

Residents have until Jan. 19 to enter their name for one of the libraries painted by volunteers during Mesa’s 2019 Love Your City Service Day. Visit mesaaz.gov/littlelibraries.

Little Free Library is a free book exchange program. The owner leaves books in often uniquely designed structures that often stand on a post and the borrowers can bring them back or leave a new tome to replace it.

The program started when a Wisconsin man named Tod Bol in 2009 built a little schoolhouse in his backyard and stuck it on a post – like a birdfeeder – as a tribute to his schoolteacher mother, packing it with books that people could borrow.

The idea gave birth the next year to a nonprofit organization that wants to “promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations,” according to its website, littlefreelibrary.org

The founders’ initial goal was 2,510 birdhouse-like libraries – the same number of libraries that philanthropist-steel baron Carnegie built in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Today, there are more than 96,000 libraries in 50 states and 50 other countries that have put more than 165 million books in people’s hands.

The city’s Imagine Mesa launched the Mesa Little Libraries Program in July 2018 “to inspire a love of reading through book exchanges and to foster connections in neighborhoods” and is modeled after the international program.

Lindsey Balinkie, the city’s community engagement administrator who is coordinating the Little Libraries program, said the city program has sponsored 30 little libraries since July 2017, though she believes “there are many more outside our program.”

Indeed, the program is so popular that the city isn’t even taking new applications because it is working through a backlog.

The raffle is a separate initiative, Balinkie said, to encourage connectivity among Mesa’s many neighborhoods.

But raffle winners, like successful applicants to the regular program, do have to follow rules – although a permit is not required.

For example, raffle winners must supply written permission from their HOA if they live in one or else an alternate winner will be chosen.

Winners must be willing to install the little libraries at the address submitted on their entry form.

Little Libraries can be up to 2 feet wide and between 3 feet and 10 feet tall and must be installed on the front or side lawn and not interfere with motorists’ sight-line at intersections or near driveways.

We would love to see more little libraries popping up in Mesa. The Mesa Little Library program is a funding source for libraries, but you do not have to participate or be funded by us in order to move ahead on your own.

In order to share the benefit of little libraries with as many Mesa neighborhoods as possible, the city also does not provide a Little Library if there is already one on the same street or nearby.

And although the city’s regular program provides materials to erect a Little Library, raffle winners are on their own.

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