SURFSIDE BEACH — It’s hard to miss the blue-and-green, painted wooden case standing outside city hall that for the last five years has provided residents entertainment and countless stories to dive into.
The Little Free Library in Surfside was installed and initially filled with books donated by Pam Meylor and her family, and she’s happy it’s still operational and used by village residents, she said.
“Part of our motivation obviously was to have books down there,” she said. “It kind of just takes charge of itself. We tried to make sure it was being used for books and not other things.”
She started considering bringing the little-library concept to the village in 2014 after realizing the closest library was in Freeport, Meylor said.
“We thought there are other people in the community who would like books,” she said. “People in Surfside love Surfside and they don’t want to have to leave.”
Organizers purchased the structure from the Little Free Library national nonprofit organization after city council gave permission to place the box outside City Hall, Meylor said.
The nonprofit Little Free Library organization began in 2009 and now has more than 15,000 stations worldwide. Each is handcrafted, and they are in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. They can hold from 20 to 100 books.
The Little Free Library operates on a “take a book, leave a book” idea, and in order to keep the interest of residents, she kept the wooden case stocked with recently published books and best-sellers, Meylor said.
“It’s nice,” she said. “I just think it’s a great resource.”
Despite some books being in better condition than others, she was always appreciative of the constant interest, Meylor said.
“We always appreciated what we got,” she said. “They would go home with somebody.”
When she moved away with her family recently, she became worried about the future of the library, however, Meylor said.
“We were initially a little concerned,” she said. “We didn’t want it to become an eyesore or become neglected.”
Christina Morales, a local author and Surfside resident, was happy to keep the library functional for the community this year, she said.
“I was checking with her to see if there were any new books and she got me into running it,” she said.
The Little Free Library has stayed relevant in the community because of the shared experiences it can build via books, and new residents are always excited to discover new stories to read, Morales said.
“This just really works,” she said. “There are a lot of writers on the island.”
Keeping the case fully stocked has proven to be a constant job, but residents are sure to help out, Morales said.
“The books go fast, so you need to restock pretty often and if there’s no books there, you put out a little notice and next day it’s jam-jacked with books,” she said.
While some people are heavier readers than others, the library is all about making sure anyone who wants to read a book has that option available, Morales said.
“The idea is to increase literacy,” she said.