They look like oversized mailboxes and their goal is to get people of all ages reading.
They are known as Little Free Libraries and the effort to have them pop up on lawns in Marshalltown has begun.
The first one was erected Wednesday at 206 W. Church St. at the home of Ron Rainey. It was made by Marshalltown resident Conrad Dejardin, who believes in the importance of literacy at any age.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Conrad Dejardin, left, built this box known as a Little Free Library, which is located in the front lawn at 206 W. Church St. It is at the home of Ron Rainey, pictured at right. People are encouraged to exchange books through these boxes to promote reading.
"It makes books readily accessible to more people," Dejardin said.
The idea is that people can take a book or leave a book at their leisure.
Dejardin has built two others to be located in town and hopes others in the area build their own boxes for the community to enjoy.
"There are no rules or requirements of how to make your own," Dejardin said.
He said it not only promotes reading but it promotes neighborliness as people interact with each other.
Rainey said the response from his Little Free Library was pretty much immediate.
"Within a half hour of it being up a man came up with a book to put in it," Rainey said.
Little Free Libraries started in 2009 in Wisconsin by a man named Todd Bol. He built a small schoolhouse with books in it to honor his mother who was a former school teacher.
Thousands of Little Free Libraries are popping up across the United States.
Dejardin got the idea to start the effort locally from a movement underway in Ames.
"The idea is spreading, and it can't do anything but good," Dejardin said.
To learn how to make a box or for more information on this effort, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org. There is also a place on the website to register the boxes so it can be counted as part of the effort.