Vacation Reads

9/25/2018 - Charlotte Peigen

Arts & Culture, Family-Friendly, Interactive
Little Free Libraries in Kenosha, WI

We all love to grab a good book to take on vacation with us, right? Whether you are visiting from far away or being a tourist in your own town, Kenosha encourages finding some time to read while here. In Kenosha and other communities, you may have noticed little houses filled with books. You may have seen one while out shopping downtown or when walking your dog through your neighborhood. So, what are these mystery houses? They are called Little Free Libraries

Started in Wisconsin in 2009, the Little Free Libraries network operates on the idea of book sharing… so, take a book, leave a book. As the name implies, it’s totally free! No card to remember or late fees to deter diving into the next great story. At any time, grab a book and let the entertainment begin. These freestanding book-loan centers are utilized on the honor system, and everyone is invited to partake. The aim is to not only promote a love of reading, but to bring literacy to underserved communities. According to their website, 61% of low-income families do not have any age-appropriate books for their kids at home. Children in those communities are at a disadvantage compared to their classmates and with that in mind, Little Free Libraries was born! As a huge bibliophile myself, I made sure to bring a few books as an offering to the community while doing research for this blog. My hope is that some of my well-loved books could have a second, and third, and fourth, and hopefully fifth home.

Taking a look at the Little Free Library Map, you will see that Kenosha has a lot of libraries to check out. You could spend weeks checking out what each has to offer. Each one has its own unique twist—like charter #30834 - which is a miniature church to match St. John’s in Downtown Kenosha. This would be such a fun activity to do with your kids, in fact several private residences now have libraries in their front yards. Looking for them is like a scavenger hunt, with so many prizes at the end! While searching for the ones in Kenosha, I found places I never knew existed and saw parts of the city I had never been to before. Take for example, Charter #407. This Little Free Library is located at the corner of a community garden that many people don’t even know is there. It’s just west of Wolfenbuttel Park, which boasts great views of the harbor, lush green spaces and plenty of benches for you to enjoy your book selection. 

Some libraries are so unsuspecting, you have probably passed them by without a second glance. Visiting Downtown Kenosha? Grab a book from charter #28960 and head over to The Buzz. They offer the much sought after and popular “cronut” and now, with fall time around the corner, a huge selection of hot drinks. Wanting an unbeatable view of the harbor to accompany your literary break? Stop by charter #14633 and ‘check out’ a book before taking a walk over to Harborside Common Grounds. With its cozy, homelike atmosphere, you and your book can tuck away in a corner with your chai tea latte (my personal favorite) and a delicious pastry and be transported to another world. 

Now, there are a few libraries in residential areas. Individual, private citizens have taken it upon themselves to bring a love of reading to their immediate neighborhood. It warms the heart to see Kenoshans like this caring about the needs of their community. These Little Free Libraries provide that 24/7 access to those in need, and those on the go. Don’t worry if you don’t have a book to donate to a library, others will help to stock the libraries – so no pressure! Just get a book and start reading! Little Free Libraries is such a unique concept, one that you can take advantage of in Kenosha at almost every turn. Seriously, take a look at that map and see just how many library locations there are here. While it’s not unique to Kenosha, it’s a special addition to hospitality in our area. 

In addition to the Little Free Libraries, the Kenosha Public Library (KPL) offers a lot of great resources and programming. Did you know that the KPL has a reciprocity program so that any Wisconsin resident can obtain a Kenosha library card and use our branches? And visitors from Racine, Walworth, and Rock counties don’t need to apply for a KPL card, since these counties share a catalog! The Kenosha Public Library also offers a variety of free classes, programs, and reading sessions that are open to the public. So if you’re looking for a friendly place to spend some time reading this fall, consider stopping at one of the KPL branches. The Simmons Library Branch is especially charming and located in the Library Park historic district.

So grab a book, and a warm beverage from your favorite local café. It’s the season to curl up in a cozy chair or on a park bench with the crisp autumn air and enjoy some good reads. Happy Librarying! 

Community Blog Team 2018

Charlotte Peigen

Community Blogger

Military spouse living on the far Northside of Kenosha with her husband and two fur children. Always on the lookout for ways to make this “tour” in Kenosha feel like a Forever Home.