Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
Cloudy
33°
Cloudy
Hi 36° | Lo 19°

Amherst couple joins the book-sharing business

  • For the 70th birthday of her husband, Murray Schwartz, Peggy Schwartz had a little library installed in front of their Amherst home. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    For the 70th birthday of her husband, Murray Schwartz, Peggy Schwartz had a little library installed in front of their Amherst home.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • For the 70th birthday of her husband, Murray Schwartz, Peggy Schwartz had a little library installed in front of their Amherst home. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    For the 70th birthday of her husband, Murray Schwartz, Peggy Schwartz had a little library installed in front of their Amherst home.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • For the 70th birthday of her husband, Murray Schwartz, Peggy Schwartz had a little library installed in front of their Amherst home. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    For the 70th birthday of her husband, Murray Schwartz, Peggy Schwartz had a little library installed in front of their Amherst home.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Peggy Schwartz' gift to her husband, Murray; on his 70th birthday was this little free library in front of their Amherst home.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Peggy Schwartz' gift to her husband, Murray; on his 70th birthday was this little free library in front of their Amherst home.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • For the 70th birthday of her husband, Murray Schwartz, Peggy Schwartz had a little library installed in front of their Amherst home. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • For the 70th birthday of her husband, Murray Schwartz, Peggy Schwartz had a little library installed in front of their Amherst home. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • For the 70th birthday of her husband, Murray Schwartz, Peggy Schwartz had a little library installed in front of their Amherst home. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Peggy Schwartz' gift to her husband, Murray; on his 70th birthday was this little free library in front of their Amherst home.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

Or they could borrow a book to take home and perhaps leave one of their own for someone else to enjoy.

This little free library, as it is called, went up Sunday outside their home on Lessey Street. It is at least the second one in Amherst and part of a growing national and regional trend that includes others in Northampton, Easthampton and Turners Falls.

“It’s already a bit of a conversation piece and community builder,” said Peggy Schwartz, who came up with the idea to make this a gift for her husband’s 70th birthday. They celebrated Saturday with dozens of family and friends and a meal catered by Bub’s Bar-B-Q. E-invitations to the party suggested contributing to the cost of the library in lieu of gifts.

“I had no idea it was coming. It’s the perfect gift for a professor of literature,” said Murray Schwartz, who teaches at Emerson College in Boston and is retired as dean of humanities and fine arts at the University of Massachusetts.

The library was inspired by their friends in Northampton, Stan Sherer and Marjorie Senechal, who helped them stock it with books by John Updike and Cliff Stoll. Schwartz said he intends to add books about the Holocaust and copies of William Shakespeare plays, along with novels, detective stories and classic children’s literature.

This won’t be hard to do, since both he and his wife, who retired as director of the dance program at UMass, have plenty of books to share. “We’re a little bit oversupplied,” he said.

They also plan to put in a copy of the 2011 book they wrote together, “The Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus.”

“You change it often enough so people keep coming back and looking,” Peggy Schwartz said of the offerings.

The little free library trend is thought to have started two years ago in Hudson, Wisc., where Todd Bol built a miniature library modeled after a schoolhouse. Bol and a friend later started a website, www.littlefreelibrary.org, to encourage others to create similar libraries and register them online.

Peggy Schwartz ordered a $400 Amish barn-style library from the website and installed it on top of a post made by a friend, Phil Haskins.

“I love the simplicity of it,” she said.

The Schwartzes said they can’t wait to see what books get left inside.

“Leave me some good mysteries,” Peggy Schwartz said. “I promise to put them back.”

“I’ll just see what turns up,” Murray Schwartz said.

He said he can see the benefits of libraries like his supplementing the other libraries in town, from the Jones and its branches to those at UMass and the colleges.

“This is community support for reading, which would help other libraries,” he said.

Legacy Comments0
There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.