'Take a book, leave a book' library comes to Catonsville

Book lovers in Catonsville have a new outlet for exploring new titles in the village.

Stewart Stack, who lives on South Rolling Road, has installed in his front yard a Little Free Library that's open to any and all neighbors, residents and passersby.

"People can take books and leave books," Stack said. "They're sponsored by the website that puts them on a map and that sort of thing so people can find them."

Little Free Library was started in 2010 by two men from Wisconsin and has grown to include more than 10,000 libraries around the world, according to their website.

"Little Free Libraries have a unique, personal touch and there is an understanding that real people are sharing their favorite books with their community," the website said. "These aren't just any old books, this is a carefully curated collection and the Library itself is a piece of neighborhood art."

Stack built his library — which stands 30 inches tall and is two feet wide — as a way to connect with the community, after a co-worker started a shared library where he works.

"Everyone would bring in books they like," he said.

For the box in front of his house, he put about 16 books inside, he said, and in the past few weeks people in the neighborhood have started to catch on.

"I built the library from plans they have on their website," Stack said. "I put solar lighting in mine so it has a solar collector so it will light up the interior at night.

"And I put a music box into it," the 51-year-old said. "I figured I would make multimedia center out of it."

The give and take nature of the library took some time to catch on.

"In the beginning, there were more people taking books than leaving books," Stack said. "But lately, the thing is just packed. It's really caught on now because people are leaving books more often."

"I read the first book that somebody left, the first one that I was aware of that somebody left there," Stack said. "And I just loved it. I couldn't put it down."

Stack's library is officially registered with Little Free Library and can be found on the site's map of libraries around the world (www.littlefreelibrary.org).

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