Let's get Little Free Libraries for students' free time

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Photo Credit: Alexandra Vanderhider | Daily Texan Staff

Cracking open a book and getting lost in the story is a great feeling. It can be a gateway to relaxation, and it is an instant stress reliever. While there are multiple libraries on campus that offer various genres, their locations are not always convenient. Since a college campus can be a stressful environment, the University should ensure all students have easy access to leisure reading.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that encourages reading and provides books in a creative way while reinforcing a community. The way it works is books are left in little libraries that look like enlarged birdhouses on a stake. Anyone can open the glass window and choose a book with the option of leaving behind another or bringing it back for others to enjoy. Little Free Libraries should be placed sporadically all around campus.

English freshman Madeline Dorman used a Little Free Library and said the overall concept is a great way to promote literacy and share with the community.

“I have used a Little Free Library before,” Dorman said. “It was always the serendipity of finding something really cool to read and knowing that you’re able to offer something back to the community to read and enjoy.”

A study by The Journal of Multidisciplinary Graduate Research in collaboration with various Texas universities shows the percentage of students who read for pleasure averaged higher scores in math, science, English and history compared to their peers who didn’t voluntarily read.

Reading fiction novels has been reported to be one of the most popular and effective ways to de-stress. It’s more effective than drinking calming tea and listening to relaxing music. When you read, your brain concentrates on literature, so your heart rate slows down and your muscles relax.

“With so much content vying for our attention, finding time for a little leisure reading can be calming,” said Lorraine Haricombe, vice provost and director of libraries. “Reading a book versus bits of information on social media offers a very different experience and brings benefits like the ability to see situations from various viewpoints, increased intelligence and reduced stress.”

There are multiple libraries around campus, some providing a wider selection than others. Many books in these libraries relate more to academics, and certain books are required to be read by a course. Little Free Library has a book exchange that allows students to interact with their community and have easy access to books that students similar to them enjoy. This offers students easy access to books they may be more likely to enjoy for nonacademic reading.

According to Dorman, finding something you’re willing to read can make the whole experience much more personal and evokes a different experience. “Leisure reading is way different than reading textbooks or reading things you are assigned to read,” Dorman said. “It’s finding yourself in the stories you want to read, something you find interesting — and wanting to learn more. It’s discovering a new world.”

The location of the libraries on campus aren’t always convenient, and it can be intimidating to find a book among so many options. On a cold and rainy day, it is unpleasant walking all the way to the PCL to find a book to read. With access to a Little Free Library, you could grab a leisure book recommended by a fellow Longhorn right outside your dorm and snuggle up in bed within the minute. Placing Little Free Libraries sporadically around campus would save students a lot of trekking and book-searching time while promoting reading as an nonacademic activity.

Pape is a journalism freshman from San Antonio.