Local resident Kathy Alexander is a strong supporter of literacy, and a person of action. When she heard about the Little Free Library project from her friend Dan French, she immediately knew that it was something that would benefit the people of Piqua.
Little Free Libraries have been around since 2009, when a gentleman named Todd H. Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, decided to build a model to install in his yard. A year later, Bol had given away 30 additional libraries to friends and family. The project continued to expand from there, growing quickly. As noted by the New York Times, the non-profit group has become “A global sensation!”
The Little Free Library’s stated goals are to inspire a love of reading, build community, and spark creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world. The Little Free Library project celebrated their fifty-thousandth installation last year. They can be found in all 50 states and more than 70 countries world wide. It is estimated that 16 million books are now being exchanged each year through Little Free Libraries.
Locally, it is hoped that the installation at Pitsenbarger Park will provide a variety of books for people of all ages to enjoy.
“We especially want to reach children and anyone that has trouble getting to the public library,” says Alexander. “Even though Piqua has a beautiful library facility downtown, sometimes it helps to know that good reading material is available in your own backyard.”
The Little Free Library structure was paid for by the Clifton Foundation, a group that funds special projects in memory of Alexander’s son Clifton, who was an avid reader. The Clifton Foundation is a part of the Piqua Community Foundation’s charitable giving group. The City of Piqua has generously allowed the group to place sites on city park property. Assistance with site selection and book donation was provided by Diagon Valley, the local chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance. The Piqua Public Library has also donated books from their book weeding program to the project. Positively Promoting Piqua has actively supported the project as well.
Plans are underway for additional Little Free Libraries in the area, with upcoming locations identified in Shawnee, and in the south end of town at the Bethany Center. The libraries will be stocked and maintained by volunteers.
Users of the libraries are encouraged to exchange books that they have finished for new reading material, to help keep the book selection constantly revolving. Returning borrowed books to the Little Free Library site is very much appreciated, but not required. No cards are issued, no membership fees exist, and no fines are levied. It is simply the place to go for a free neighborhood book swap.
Questions about volunteering, or donations, can be directed to Kathy Alexander at her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.