CUMBERLAND – Little Free Libraries continue to spring up across the Blackstone Valley, offering a fun way to trade books and see what your neighbors are reading.
Many of the tiny libraries have interesting backstories, such as Cumberland resident Lynn McClellan Souto’s Little Free Library at the memorial to the famed William Blackstone, outside the Blackstone River Theatre on Broad Street (the theater, Blackstone River, and many other landmarks were named after Blackstone).
Back in 2018, Souto saw a house-shaped stand containing real estate brochures outside the abandoned Vista Donuts in Attleboro, Mass., and immediately was reminded of one of the red brick millhouses her family had occupied for five generations on Broad Street. She received permission to convert the yellow box into a Little Free Library designed to look like the millhouse.
Souto said this month that her Little Free Library is one of a growing number in the area, and people will often draw attention to them by posting pictures of them online. Many have been born of people looking for something meaningful and creative to do during the pandemic, and some have invested a lot of work into making them look inviting.
When families are out and about walking this summer, Little Free Libraries provide a great source of summer reading for children and maybe even good beach reads for adults, Souto said.
With that in mind, residents who take a book are also encouraged to share a book to keep the tiny libraries stocked.
There tends to be a lot of confusion about where certain Little Free Libraries are, with many folks not realizing that any which are registered with the Little Free Libraries organization are tagged on a map on their website, littlefreelibrary.org, and can be found by searching a location (many have instructions within the map). Others can be a bit more difficult to find unless you drive by.
Heading into summer, said Souto, she wishes they had a comprehensive list of locations in the area (The Breeze will be compiling a more comprehensive list over the next couple of months for northern Rhode Island, adding them to this story. Send us locations by email at firstname.lastname@example.org). Here’s a smaller list to get you started, some from the site and some not:
• Jenks Park, 602 Broad St., Central Falls.
• St. Mary Little Free Library, on St. Mary Way off Roosevelt Avenue in Pawtucket.
• The Looking Glass LFL, 31 Dickinson Ave., North Providence.
• Gail Casci’s Little Free Library at 517 George Waterman Road, Johnston, on the side of Swan Street.
• The BGCP Little Library, 1 Moeller Place, Pawtucket.
• The Burgess Avenue Little Free Library, 198 Burgess Ave., Pawtucket.
• ThreeHouse, 92 Eddington St., Pawtucket.
• Jane Larson, 255 Rice St., Pawtucket.
• North Providence Kids Klub at Evans Park, 1550 Smith St., North Providence
• NP Kids Klub at Cricket Field, 15 Riverside Ave., Johnston.
• Donna Connell, 184 Waterman Lake Drive, Glocester.
• The Brandy Brook Nook, 122 Brandy Brook Road, Scituate.
• Neighborhood Little Free Library, 3 Spruce Valley Drive, North Scituate.
• The Cozy Cat Little Free Library, 140 Franklin Road, Scituate.
• Chepachet Little Free Library, 10 Angel Road, Glocester.
• Revive the Roots, 374 Farnum Pike, Smithfield.
• St. Antoine Library, 10 Rhodes Ave., North Smithfield.
• Phillips Library, 127 Division St., Woonsocket.
• Katie Paul, 104 Newland Ave., Woonsocket.
• Stephanie Ainsburg, 4040 Mendon Road, Cumberland.
• Arnold Mills United Methodist Church, 690 Nate Whipple Highway, Cumberland.
• Thomas Leighton Boulevard, Cumberland.
• Hunts Bridge Road, Cumberland.
• Franklin Farm, 142 Abbott Run Valley Road, Cumberland.
• White Pine Drive off North Attleboro Road, Cumberland.
• Connor Bausman Eagle Project Library, 100 New River Road, Lincoln.
• MacColl YMCA, 32 Breakneck Hill Road, Lincoln.
• Ashton Little Free Library, 130 Scott Road, Cumberland.
• Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 120 Nate Whipple Highway, Cumberland. This one was donated by member Ed Bradshaw’s cousin in Georgia in memory of Bradshaw’s mom, Mae Bradshaw, who died in February of 2017. It is purple as her favorite color.
• Arlene Smith, 56 Crestwood Court, Cumberland.
• Arnold Mills Community House, 75 Hillside Road, Cumberland.
• Katy Gabel, 18 Melody Lane, Cumberland.
• Broad Street Little Free Library, next to Blackstone River Theatre, Broad Street in Cumberland.
• Emmanuel Episcopal Church Little Free Library at 120 Nate Whipple Highway in Cumberland. It was donated by Edward Bradshaw’s cousin in Georgia in memory of his mom, Mae Bradshaw, who died in February of 2017, and it is purple, which was Mae’s favorite color.
• Rhea Powers has a Little Free Library in front of her home at the top of Heroux Boulevard in Cumberland. Bouchard, a lifelong bookworm who loves being able to share books with other readers, is a Breeze columnist. The top section of her library was a birthday gift from her children one year. The two lower sidecars arrived the following year, allowing her to sort the books into three categories: general reading up top, murder and mayhem at the lower left, and young readers lower right. The selections are freshened on a regular basis, with donations left by friends and other readers, books that she buys from the Friends of Cumberland Library used book store, and her own personal books once she’s read them.
“I check my library on a daily basis to restock it as needed,” she said. “Nothing pleases me more than seeing people out there browsing. Tell me what kind of books or what author you’re looking for and I will do my best to find it.”