Alexandra Broyles is one unusual librarian.
First of all, her library contains only 30 or so titles. Second, its on her lawn. And finally, shes seldom there to stop books from disappearing.
Thats how it works on the corner of Ridge Avenue and Burrowes Road in the College Heights neighborhood.
Broyles maintains State Colleges Little Free Library, the local branch of a national network. Based in Wisconsin, the nonprofit Little Free Library program allows people to become stewards of tiny libraries that allow readers to borrow, take and replace books at will.
Stewards build libraries according to guidelines, but then are free to decorate them as they wish. After Broyles husband, Jim, built hers charter No. 0890 from free plans in May and stuck it on a post, she decorated it as a miniature version of her brown Tudor-style home.
Other designs at the organizations website, www.littlefreelibrary.org, include an old red English phonebooth.
When Broyles learned about the program online, she knew it was for her.
Because I love books and I love little houses, she said. This was speaking to me.
She wrote to the organization and within a week was officially a Little Free Library steward. Since a small block party heralded the librarys opening, Broyles has been replenishing her stock mostly literature but some gardening books and childrens stories to keep up with readers discovering the towns latest literary outlet.
I try to find a little bit of everything, she said.
A recent find of childrens books from a sale near Indian Lake, N.Y., where she has a summer home, might find its way to library soon. Broyles, a volunteer with the annual AAUW book sale at Penn State, always looks for fresh titles.
I just have books in my life everywhere, she said. It just seemed like a natural thing for me to do.
Among the books recently behind the glass door were a set of four Barbara Kingsolver novels and Raymond Chandlers The Little Sister all waiting for the right reader.
Free, thats the operative word, free to come and free to go, Broyles said. I just think its the coolest thing.
Readers can donate to the library, but its not a requirement. Broyles said people have respected the library and kept it intact. Neighbors help by keeping an eye on it.
The most it has drawn has been a few surprised looks.
Everybody who walks by either does a double take or comes by and opens the door, Broyles said.
As the librarian, she prefers not to hover, but instead enjoy her patrons delight from a distance.
On my porch, I can hear someone say, Im on my way to the library, she said. And they mean me.