EVERETT — When Lori White’s neighbors need a book, they don’t have far to go.
At the corner of her north Everett yard is a library, built with the same spirit that propelled philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to start hundreds of libraries across the United States.
This one is just smaller.
This spring, White and her partner, Marc Baker, erected the world’s 998th Little Free Library, at the corner of 15th Street and Lombard Avenue.
The little library is part of a national movement started in Wisconsin meant to foster literacy and a stronger community.
Other little libraries are located in Freeland, Bothell and downtown Edmonds.
White saw a television news program on the effort and wanted to start one here.
“I looked at my partner and said, ‘That’s what I want for my birthday.’”
White, an office manager at a dental practice, believes in the power of a good book. She loves to read, preferring it over television in the evenings.
She insists that she’s not the owner of the library, just the steward.
“It does not belong to us,” she said. “It belongs to the neighborhood.”
A neighbor built the little library and then the couple unveiled it at a block party.
It looks like a tiny house on a pole.
Inside are two shelves: the top is labeled “folks” and, on a recent day, included novels by Frank McCourt, Dean Koontz and Anita Shreve.
A sign fixed to the library suggests, “Take a book, return a book.”
The selection varies as people do just that, White said. The few times someone has tried to slip in a pamphlet or book with an agenda, she removes it.
It’s not about that, she said.
She’s stocked the library with books from her own home, including classics she read to her son as child such as “The Adventures of Tintin” and “The Stonecutter” by Gerald McDermott. She also picks up low-cost books used to stock the library.
And others leave books, too.
The little library has become an excuse for strangers to stop and chat, for a father to sit down with his daughters right on the curb and start to read to them.
No one has vandalized it.
Across the street Merlin and Margrite Verhoeven have lived in their tidy home for 38 years. Merlin, a hobby woodworker, built the little library from scrapwood and $4 worth of supplies.
“All I’ve heard is positive,” he said of the neighborhood’s reaction.
“It’s helped people open up and meet each other,” his wife agreed.
Margrite Verhoeven’s observed quite a few people stop and check out the library — even teenage boys.
“If it gets teenage boys to read, that’s a good thing,” she said.
The Little Free Library website includes instructions for how to build and register one.
That information, as well as locations of the libraries, can be found online at www.littlefree library.org.