The dusty, desert town of Carrizozo, New Mexico — population 996 — doesn’t have a hospital, movie theater, or mall. It’s the neighbor to a handful of abandoned ghost towns. And it has never had a public library. By spring 2014, though, Carrizozo will be the proud home to thirteen libraries . . . the little, free kind.
Five Little Free Libraries are already part of the town’s cactus-studded landscape, and eight more are in the works, says steward John Boswell. “I’m a heavy reader, and after moving here in 2010, I became frustrated with library access,” he says. (With good reason: Billy the Kid’s old stomping grounds are a stone’s throw from Carrizozo, but the closest public library is thirty miles away.) “A longtime friend turned me on to Little Free Libraries, and in August 2012 I launched the first one in town.” Soon after, Carrizozo Works, a local community-development group, agreed to fund and promote more libraries through its Adopt-a-Block program, helping raise $5,800 in grants.
When all thirteen installations are done, Carrizozo “might just be the smallest town with the most Little Free Libraries per capita,” Boswell says.
What Carrizozo lacks in size, it makes up for in community involvement — hosting rodeos, art shows, street fairs, motorcycle rallies, and more — and the townspeople have embraced the Little Free Library movement with the same enthusiasm and camaraderie. To help them carry books between the well-used libraries, Boswell has ambitious plans to make and give away a thousand tote bags: one for each resident.
The small, book-loving town is also in the process of establishing a traditional public library — one with reading chairs, late fees, and bookshelves to the ceiling. If you’re keeping score, that will bring Carrizozo’s total to fourteen. Pretty soon, libraries will outnumber the tumbleweeds!