Introducing Duggan, Brooks & Books: Sharing Books, Creating Community
This is the second in our series of articles lifting up Little Free Libraries in Tacoma. If you missed our first article about Melo and her Eastside library, you might be wondering what a dentist and a real estate agent family have to do with Little Free Libraries? That’s easy! We love Tacoma and we love community! (And we love to read, so why not?)
We at Duggan Homes with Dr. Jamie of Brooks Dental Studio are so happy to be partnering up to support literacy and access to books in our favorite city.
Throughout March and into April we’ll be coming to you every couple of weeks with a Little Free Library profile, an up close look at a particular library through the eyes of the caretakers.
Along with these Little Free Library profiles, we’re hosting book drives at Brooks Dental Studio and Windermere Abode to support the specific libraries we’re writing about. We’ll even give you a “wish list” for each library. (Lots more about the book drive below!)
Our project will culminate in the sponsorship of 2 new Little Free Libraries for Tacoma. The Rotary Literacy Committee and Tacoma Community House are helping us identify areas with a need for greater access to books. We’re so excited!
Support - the existing Little Free Library community in Tacoma
Share - our love of books, of reading, and our love of Tacoma
Expand - access to literacy through 2 new Little Libraries
Enhance - the quality of Little Free Library material through intentional stocking of books to meet the various needs and interests of the community
Collaborate - with Little Free Library caretakers to share the story of their library and understand its role in their neighborhood
Sound good? We hope you have some books around that you’re ready to share. We thank you in advance!
What’s a Little Free Library?
Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization founded in Wisconsin in 2012, although it actually began in 2009 when Todd H. Bol built the first Little Free Library. Todd passed away in 2018, leaving a legacy of literacy. At the time of his death over 75,000 Little Free Libraries populated 88 countries! Here in Tacoma we’re part of that global community.
Little Free Libraries are mini libraries outside homes. Folks can purchase kits, or design their own. Little Free Libraries are free to use, open to everyone. They’re here for all of us, and they’re meant to be used and shared!
Visit the Little Free Library site to learn more about how it all started, explore a searchable map of local libraries, or register your own Little Library if you haven’t already.
Local Little Free Library Profile - Leigh Wong & The Cushman Branch
Meet Leigh Wong. She and her husband John Stroeh, along with their family, are caretakers of a Little Free Library outside their home at 922 South Cushman Street. Raised in California, Leigh came to Tacoma by way of Vancouver, British Columbia. Leigh is an artist and a teacher, a gracious listener, a lover of community, and a hardworking mama! Read all about this Hilltop Neighborhood library below, then find out how you can support it!
How long has your Little Free Library been open?
“We opened out little library probably in 2013, so almost 6 years!”
If you read our last Little Free Library article, you might remember that Melo’s library has just been open for a few months. The community is growing!
What inspired you to host a Little Free Library outside your home?
“It is a great way to mark our house when meeting neighbors and explaining where we live in the neighborhood. It is a conversation starter. We also love the idea of making books accessible to all, providing it is good reading material. It is also a great thing for our block because we stand behind it and the idea together. We all own and operate this library. We sometimes talk about what books they left and what books they got from the library.”
Have you met anyone new because of your Little Free Library?
On Leigh’s block they have reasons to say hello. She says, “Yes, we meet people who walk by when we are at our window or outside.” People stop and take a look at the library, and it’s a just anther reason to say “hello” or strike up a conversation.
Has the Little Free Library changed or influenced your relationship with your neighborhood or the people on your block?
“I think people feel free to wander and stop and talk, and to stare into the library and just stand there. I think it makes us stop and talk more to people on our block and passersby.”
These libraries are about more than just reading material; this is Little Libraries creating connection and building community!
Do you notice any “favorite” kinds of books for your neighborhood?
Leigh hasn’t noticed a particular genre or type of book that’s most popular in the Cushman Branch. But she says, “I do know that children's books are in there and people like those as well as more adult novels and cookbooks. Magazines are also in there and get taken.”
What are your wishes for your Little Free Library, or your vision for its purpose or influence?
“I do hope to one day have a park bench out on our parking strip so that people can stop and read a while. I hope to create a space of beauty and peace that all could ‘own’ and not any one person. I like the idea of a stopping ground or rest stop as people travel to Safeway which is two blocks away or on their way home from school.”
How can the Tacoma community support your Little Free Library?
Leigh says it’s time to talk to their library designer about maybe adjusting the shelves to accommodate books of varying sizes. Also, she notices there’s quite a bit of maintenance needed to keep the library in good repair. Right now the knob for the door is missing! She also has more thoughts about how we can support the Cushman Library with reading material. “We put a lot of board books in there for wee ones and they were gone quick. I love children's books! And also maybe new best sellers? It would be great to stock it with great reads.” Let’s get on that!
Duggan, Brooks & Books Little Free Library Book Drive
Part of our mission is to “Enhance the quality of Little Free Library material through intentional stocking of books that meet the various needs and interest of the community.”
This is where you come in! Any books you love, find interesting or valuable, and are ready to share are more than welcome.
Book Drive Wish List
As Leigh shared, there’s not necessarily one genre that’s most in demand in their neighborhood library, but they do tend to like:
Any book you love and would like to share!
Don’t feel limited by the list, it’s just a way to get ideas going. So let’s start collecting for the book drive!
Book Drive Locations
Brooks Dental Studio - 732 Broadway, Suite 101, Downtown Tacoma
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 7 am - 4 pm
Tuesday: 7 am - 1 pm
Brooks Dental Studio is on Antique Row and just below colorful Opera Alley. Drop off some books, then browse the vintage shops, or head toward S. 9th for coffee at Bostwick Cafe, or a treat at Original House of Donuts - then brush those teeth!
Find Dr. Jamie & stay in the loop about our project:
Windermere Abode - 2200 N 30th St, Suite 102, Old Town Tacoma
Monday - Friday: 9 am - 5 pm
Saturday: we often have a realtor on duty, so we’ll let you know via Instagram and Facebook if it’s a good Saturday to drop off some books!
Windermere Abode is in Tacoma’s beautiful Old Town, just a block up from the Old Town Dock on the Ruston Way Waterfront. Drop off some books, then take a walk on Ruston Way, or head across the street to The Spar for cocoa, coffee, or delicious Spar Chips!
Find Michael & Gretchen of Duggan Homes & stay in the loop about our project:
See You Soon!
In the coming weeks we’ll be featuring another Tacoma Little Free Library and its caretakers. We can’t wait to share more stories, and update our book drive wish list. Just let us know if you have any questions about donating books. We look forward to seeing you around Tacoma!