Small libraries grow in popularity

Howard Hashem visits the Little Free Library that he set up  under a maple tree in front of his Watertown home.
Howard Hashem visits the Little Free Library that he set up under a maple tree in front of his Watertown home.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

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Howard Hashem built a tiny library in Watertown, beginning with a bookcase a neighbor had left out on the curb. He added a glass door from an entertainment center and a peaked roof. He attached a side shelf with room for more books. Hashem installed his creation beneath a maple tree outside his front door at the corner of Garnet and Phillips streets and filled it with a few dozen books from his collection. Hashem had read about the Little Free Library movement, begun in Wisconsin in 2009, and now spreading across the country and the world. This low-tech paean to reading and sharing books has captivated people who have created about 10,000 little libraries around the world, estimates Todd Bol, one of the founders of the nonprofit group.

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