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Patrick Springer, Published August 03 2012

Little Free Library opens in Fargo

Fargo - Kristi Brandt has what might be considered a very small branch library in her front yard.

She has a wooden box atop a post that resembles an overgrown mailbox beneath a large pine tree outside her home at 2901 3rd St. N.

It’s a Little Free Library, one of a number around the country and possibly the first in North Dakota, as far as Brandt knows.

Brandt placed the wooden box – built by the Amish from old barn wood – in her yard last fall. She learned of the Little Free Library project by chance last year while visiting her father in the hospital in Detroit Lakes, Minn.

“I needed a break and went for a walk and happened upon one,” she says. “I had to have one.”

Brandt, a language arts teacher at Ben Franklin Middle School, made it her mission to have her own Little Free Library as a way of promoting reading and a love of books.

“It’s kind of my passion,” she said.

On a recent morning, Brandt’s Little Free Library – which encourages patrons to “Take a book, leave a book” – had perhaps 30 books to offer.

A particular favorite of Brandt’s is “Dewey the Library Cat,” a nonfiction book about a cat that adopted a public library. Romance novels, general fiction and children’s books have proved popular, she said.

Not so popular: most nonfiction, as well as self-help books.

By word of mouth, the Little Free Library in north Fargo is starting to draw patrons. Brandt is thrilled when someone stops by to take or leave a book.

“I think it is so much fun,” she said. “It’s fun when you see the books change. Some people will knock at my door and say, ‘This is really neat.’ ”

Kristi and John Brandt’s 9-year-old son, Alex, has donated a few titles, including picture books and what he calls chapter books.

His take on the Little Free Library takes less than a chapter to convey.

“I don’t know,” he said, when asked for his reaction to having a library in his front yard. “Awesome.”

Some Little Free Library branches are more elaborate than the basic model Brandt obtained. She has seen photographs of little libraries

shaped like a canoe or a bus or a mailbox.

The goal of the Little Free Library movement, with a mission of promoting literacy and the love of reading by creating free book exchanges worldwide, is to build more than 2,150 around the world.

The Little Free Library’s slogan is, “A big project starts small.”

Brandt’s is listed as Little Free Library #99. You might check it out.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522