For those who love books and reading, there is nothing better than to stop at a little library and check out which books are inside. You can take one or leave one you’ve already read.
Recently a new little library popped up on Fifth Street and the homeowner Richard “Dick” Pilgrim on whose property it sits, said he has seen lots of exchanging of books in the short time it’s been available.
Pilgrim, who is a retired educator, loved the idea when he first heard about it from his daughter Anne. Anne Pilgrim had discovered the idea of little libraries from Councilmember Matthew Leyba-Gonzalez who started the idea of setting up four little libraries around town.
“Out of the four little libraries, this is the first that has been installed, explained Leyba Gonzalez.
“Reading is the most important thing a child can do, as is being read to,” said Pilgrim. He explained that initially he put some of his own books in the little library and Leyba-Gonzalez did the same, but now it’s always full thanks to residents. He checks the library regularly and has seen a lot of books exchanging hands.
Leyba-Gonzalez is very thankful when he speaks about Harry Hallez who donated materials and his time to build the four libraries. “Especially now during COVID, construction materials are more expensive. It’s huge that he donated his money and time,” he said.
The little library in Pilgrim’s front yard was also done in collaboration with David Frink and Phil Iddings of the Imperial Beach Arts Bureau, who painted and decorated it with a pencil theme.
“I’m happy with the idea, and the IB Arts Bureau did a good job with the design,” said Pilgrim.
Leyba-Gonzalez was inspired to start the little libraries thanks to retired educator Josie Hamada who suggested it. “She said [County Supervisor] Nora Vargas was doing it in her area and what a great idea it would be if I did something like that in IB,” he recalled.
Now that the first library has been installed Leyba-Gonzalez is looking forward to the other three being decorated and installed as well. “I feel it’s necessary and important that we are able to provide books to kids in the neighborhood who many not have access…grab a book, read it, bring another one back,” he said.
The Fifth Street little library is located near Sports Park and Mar Vista High School and kids can easily access the books inside.
The first little free library was started in 2009 by a man named Todd H. Bol who designed and built one for his home in Hudson, Wisconsin. The following year, Bol gave 30 little libraries to family and friends and the joy of exchanging books was shared with many. Each little library is decorated differently but all have the same goal - the sharing of books.