Lee’s Summit artist builds Little Free Library for book exchange

rpulley@lsjournal.comApril 26, 2013 

It’s sometimes difficult for couples who’ve shared lives a long time to think of presents to give the other.

So Dave Eames gave his wife a whole library.

It’s a tiny library, and actually a generous thought from his wife Kelly Eames for their Lee’s Summit neighborhood.

When Eames asked her what she wanted for a birthday present she told him a Little Free Library, a project they’d learned about online. It’s a small box outside their home for a neighborhood book exchange, part of an international movement to promote literacy and community.

People taking part build weatherproof homes for books they’d like to share and put them outside for the taking.

Kelly Eames is a 6th grade teacher at Lee’s Summit Elementary School and reading is one of her top passions.

“Our house is full of books,” Dave Eames said. “Her classroom looks like a Barnes & Noble.”

Owners of the libraries can register them at www.littlefreelibrary.org and get tips and ideas for designs.

Her birthday was Oct. 14 and Eames, a self-employed metal sculptor and graphic artist, started working on it then, but life got in the way. He finally finished and recently installed April 22.

“It’s now like an Earth Day present,” said Kelly Eames. “I think it’s darling.”

Some of the miniature libraries area are built out of scrap wood, some metal, some are made to be miniature versions of the owners home. All shapes and sizes.

Eames, of course, chose steel. He used the monster motif he frequently picks for bird houses and feeders, giving the Eames library wings and jack-o-lantern-ish teeth. It’s painted it bright red so as to be noticed. And there are C=clear instructions on top “Take a Book, Leave a Book.”

Packed inside are adult and children books. A couple of the titles: “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” With a preschool in the neighborhood and some of Eames’s students living nearby, the family has put volumes for all ages in the library.

Kelly Eames said she it’s been fun watching people she hasn’t met checking out the library.

Eames said he’s heard of people expanding the concept to share vegetables.

“Just a beautiful idea, we all have a little something extra,” Eames said.

The library is on a post next to the corner of Miller and Sixth streets. Not too close to the house so people would feel comfortable peeking inside.

It’s the first one in Lee’s Summit. There’s another in Blue Springs and a couple on the Kansas side of the metropolitan area. He said there are about 5,000 other Little Free Libraries all over the U.S. and even on other continents, Africa, the Middle East and South America. .

Eames hopes more Lee’s Summit homeowners will build them.

Kelly Eames said she is hoping to get one in front of Lee’s Summit Elementary School where children who live in walking distance can get a book, instead of getting a ride to the library.

“I love this idea that it’s easy,” she said, adding that the neighborhood response has been “amazing” with people asking if they can add books.

“We’ve had neighbors come down here borrowing books and put some in there,” Dave Eames said. “If books disappear, that’s great, we’ll just put more in there.”

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