HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Conventional public libraries might bring back memories of late night study sessions, microfiche, or trying to decipher the card catalogue. But a new worldwide trend in book borrowing now comes in a much smaller scale than typical brick and mortar - and you might have one of these little libraries right in your own neighborhood.
The Little Free Library concept provides a gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories.
In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of book where anyone may stop and pick up a book or two and bring back another book to share.
There are 6 little libraries in Madison County; 1 in Madison, 2 on Pratt Avenue, 1 on McCutcheon Lane in Toney and 2 on Clinton Avenue in the Old Town District.
One of those belongs to Mike Self and his wife who designed their little library to echo their robin's-egg-blue abode.
The former educators say books - specifically reading them - is becoming a lost pastime.
"We love books. We see books going by the wayside, maybe even in our lifetime," says Self, "so it's just a gesture that we make."
These days people would likely be more excited about a free smart phone app than the prospect of borrowing books free of charge. Self though says there's something lost in swiping through a smart phone or tablet.
"You know, one of the drawbacks of e-books is if I'm reading a story and I want to flip back somewhere I could flip back to about where it was, dog-ear it or whatever - it's a little tougher with an e-book because you're not real sure where you saw it so you gotta go back page by page."
The Selfs provided the initial books but say since then the neighborhood has kept the Little Free Library stocked.
"We've had people come by at 11:30 at night and get books out - we have people zoom up in cars to stop and get out and grab a book."
There have even been bags of books left on the front porch says Self.
Self says The Little Free Library, though, is about much more than encouraging a good read.
"People wish for the old days and you think, 'well, what were the old days?' and probably it was a sense of neighborhood, and I think these Little Free Libraries do as much for neighborhoods as they do for getting books out in hands."
Mike Self is currently constructing another Little Library for the rear of his property. The receptacle will be modeled after East Clinton School, just a block from the Self residence.
Anyone can have a Little Free Library. Click here to watch a two-minute video on how the concept works.
Note: Since our story aired, we've heard about several more of these throughout north Alabama. This is wonderful to hear! If you have one, we invite you to post the location in the comment section below.