The docents of the diminutive Golden Drift Museum in the Placer County hamlet of Dutch Flat are proud of their collection of historical artifacts and photos.
So imagine their surprise when an out-of-town couple arrived to get a photograph of themselves next to the book-lending kiosk out front.
A lot of people have taken notice of Little Free Libraries.
Since 2009, the movement has grown from a one-box memorial that a Wisconsin man built for his book-loving mother to an international movement with more than 8,000 locations.
There are no memberships, identification cards or late fees. A small structure is set up, usually looking like a doll-size house on a post. A sign on the house asked visitors to "take a book, leave a book."
Little Free Library sites have been set up in various Sacramento region communities, including West Sacramento, Grass Valley, Carmichael and Placerville. There are five in Sacramento. Statewide there are more than 150.
The Dutch Flat Little Free Library was set up about a year ago, but it wasn't until Wednesday that Placer County officials and literacy advocates celebrated the installation - the county's first. Supported by volunteers and Placer County's Literacy Support Council, the county now has five locations.
"We just saw this Little Free Library as a way to get out into the community," said Miriam Chipp, president of the council. She said the project, spearheaded by former board member David McAfee, is in keeping with their mission to expand adult literacy.
"It makes reading available. It makes books available," Chipp said.
Alta resident Heidi Johnson serves as the steward for the Little Free Library.
The other Placer County Little Free Library boxes are within buildings chosen to reach audiences that might need reading help. (See accompanying box.)
In many ways, the Dutch Flat location is the most in tune with the Little Free Library movement.
Most are installed and artfully decorated by residents hoping to make a small difference in their communities. Each site has a steward to occasionally check in on the box.
"These aren't just about books; they are about community," said Rick Brooks, who founded the project along with fellow Wisconsin resident Todd Bol, who built the first library to honor his mother. Brooks said he was surprised at how fast it has caught on.
He said the boxes create a sense of community in the neighborhoods where they're located and in the broader community, with people traveling miles to visit locations.
Little Free Library, through its website (littlefreelibrary.org), enrolls new stewards, sells various-style boxes and maintains a worldwide map of each site, including GPS coordinates.
The movement runs counter to the steady rise in electronic book usage. About 23 percent of Americans age 16 and over used an e-book in 2012, up from 16 percent in 2011, according to Pew Research data. Meanwhile the percentage of people who read printed books dropped from 72 percent to 67 percent during the same time period.
"I think people are feeling nostalgic for books because of all the digital stuff," said Molly Fisk, a Nevada City resident who placed a Little Free Library outside her home. She said people like to pass along good books, event if it's indirectly.
"There is a long history of people saying, 'Here is a good book, read it,' " Fish said.
Joaquin Feliciano is the steward of two Little Free Libraries in Davis, one outside his home and one at the Davis Food Co-op.
Feliciano figured he'd kill three birds with one stone: build community, use up some extra lumber and expose himself to new books.
"Part of my motivation also came from a simmering frustration over the Davis branch of the Yolo County public library having to cut back on its open hours due to budget cuts," Feliciano said.
Within the first 24 hours he had his first donation of books and it hasn't let up.
"During the warm months, I enjoy sitting quietly on my front porch in the evenings and seeing who all comes up to check out the offerings," Feliciano said. "It's a little like Christmas whenever you stop by. You just don't know what's going to be there. And once you've donated, it can be kind of fun to see if your own book is still there."
LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES SUPPORTED BY THE PLACER COUNTY LITERACY SUPPORT COUNCIL
Dutch Flat, 32820 Main St., Dutch Flat
Roseville Probation, 10810 Justice Drive, Suite 170, Roseville
WIC (Women, Infants & Children) Center, 11484 B Ave., Auburn
Auburn Justice Center, 2929 Richardson Drive, Auburn
Juvenile Detention Facility Auburn, 11260 B Ave., Auburn
For more information on the Literacy Support Council, call (530) 886-4530 or email LSCplacer@yahoo.com
For more information on the Little Free Library movement or a map of locations worldwide, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org
Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @newsfletch.