Literary Outpost at the Edge of the Arts District

Cathy Salustri

Literary Outpost at the Edge of the Arts District

“The Little Free Library has been such a great way to meet neighbors and visitors in the area who stop by to pick up books and end up chatting,” Zora Gorman, the steward for this Little Free Library at 25th Avenue and 58th Street South in Gulfport, sa

 At the corner of 58th Street and 25th Avenue South, careful observers will notice a box nestled among the lavender plumbago and white crape jasmine blossoms. Inside this box – which looks almost like a birdhouse on steroids, a bird mansion, if you will – are books.

 Welcome to Gulfport’s first Little Free Library, one of thousands popping up at the edges of private property – and on some public properties – across the globe.

 Little Free Libraries work like this: the steward of the library places books in a weatherproof box. People can borrow the books at will and return them (if they wish) when they finish with them. They can also leave books for the library.

 Bill and Zora Gorman, who divide their time between Lutz and Gulfport, built the Little Free Library.

 “When I read about the Little Free Library project,” Zora says, “I knew our corner was the perfect spot. Every day I watch runners, walkers, bikers, people on their way to work and children on their way to school passing by and I couldn't help but think, ‘I wonder if all these people are too busy to make it to the library but would like a book to read?’"

 Little Free Libraries started as a 2009 project for the non-profit, tax-exempt Wisconsin Partners for SustainAbility. Since then the project has spread from Wisconsin throughout America and around the world. Every continent except for Antarctica now has Little Free Libraries.

 “I’m so excited that the news and enthusiasm is spreading,” Zora says “Dave Mather [the Library Administrator] at the library is a big supporter and is working on more Little Free Libraries for Gulfport.”  

 As Zora explains, these small book outposts don’t compete with public libraries.

 “In my mind they complement and help promote them along with spreading accessible reading opportunities,” she says.

  The Gormans maintain the library, adding books as needed and making sure the small box stays in good repair. Every Little Free Library – even the ones in public places – have such a s steward. Google Maps has a listing of every Little Free Library in the world.

 Other Gulfportians talk about adding such literary outposts. Last week the Gabber ran a City Whys from local Juju Stevens who wants to add a Little Free Library to her right of way.

 “I'm hearing about plans for more Little Free Libraries to sprout up in Gulfport.  Rumors [of] at the marina, at the beach,” Zora says. “I'm delighted.”

To learn more about starting a Little Free Library, click here.