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But, This is Spain…Creating a Free Library Box

“Emilio, when you finish the outside walls, can you build a little box on the side for books?”

“What do you mean, a box for books outside of the house?” He asked me with only a hint of sarcasm. Though out the last two years, he had shown up every day to renovate the dilapidated little castle I had bought. He was approaching retirement and, as yet, had never worked with a Californian and their unusual requests. By now, he was more familiar with my peculiarities, but I knew he would never embrace them.

“What do you need a box for?” He continued.

“I want a free book exchange library. People can take what they like and leave ones they have finished.”

Book Exchange Window at DarKha Academy
DarKha Academy's Free Little Exchange Library

“We’ll need to put on a lock for when you are not watching it.” He warned.

“No, it will always be open and welcome to all, no matter the day or time.”

“Darcie”, he said, shaking his head slightly, showing that I had pushed my uniqueness too far; “but this is Spain, the books will be stolen”.

“We’ll see”, I replied with optimistic stubbornness.

Emilio never got around to building an actual book box, but I persisted. I loved the idea of those free libraries I had seen in California and France and Italy. They are small boxes, usually on a post and well sheltered from the weather. People leave books and take books. All free.

I dreamt of having one in my academy; it supports reading, cultures, education, growth, good will… In short, the things that bring me joy.

Since I wasn’t getting much support from Emilio, I found the perfect place that didn’t require adding another structure. Inside the window box! There the books were protected, easily accessible, and simple for me to maintain. Andthe glass of the window was reflective, so I could actually watch people as they browsed the collection without them being aware.

A neighbour, who was 10 years old, asked me, “Why are you doing this? What does this mean?”

“To share books and ideas,” I replied.

And I believe she was speaking for a silent majority when she said, “I have never seen anything like this before! Can you just take books?”

“Yes, and you can leave them, too. Why don’t you add some books that you are no longer reading?”

And she did. Then a French family dropped off a bag full of French books, and others dropped books in Spanish. I added books in English. People browse through the books, take some and exchange others. It was actually working!



Another neighbour exclaimed the other day, “Darcie, you’re changing Spain!!”

I was pleased to hear it; however, what was important was that  I had faith in the Spaniards to support our free library! Emilio, now retired, still shaking his head with a smile.

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