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Book clubs take on little free library project

When Brenda West saw three little lending libraries during a vacation in Colorado, she thought it would be a great idea for Oxford to have something similar.

Not long after, she saw another little library in New Orleans near the Bed and Breakfast she was staying.

“I thought, OK, this is speaking to me,” she said.

After she returned to Oxford, she approached the Roundtable Book Club, where she is a member, and got other members excited about sponsoring a Free Little Library in Oxford. A member of her club is also a member of the Women’s Book Club of Oxford and spoke to that group about the idea of sponsoring a lending library in Oxford as well.

“It was like magic how every thing is coming together so quickly and now we have enough support for two libraries,” West said.

How it works

The lending libraries would be stocked with books from the two book clubs through donations of books from their members and community. Adults and children can stop by the library and take a book. After they read the book, they can return it to the library or donate a different book instead. Generally, the little free libraries are wooden cabinets that are enclosed to protect the books from the weather.

There is currently an official Little Free Library at Avent Park that was put in last year as part of a collaboration between the Oxford Park Commission, the L.O.U. Reads Coalition and its co-conveners, United Way of Oxford and Lafayette County and the Lafayette County Literacy Council.

Getting registered

The book clubs intend to register the libraries with the national organization, Little Free Library, which was started in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, who built a model of a one-room school- house as a tribute to his mother who was a teacher who loved to read. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. He built several more and gave them away.

“If you register the library, you get a plaque to put on it and you’re part of the national registry,” West said. “People can look online and find a Little Free Library close to their area.”

The library at Avent Park is registered with the Little Free Library organization.

City support

On Wednesday, Seth Gaines, OPC director, told the OPC board of directors about the book clubs wishing to put two little lending libraries near Stone Park on Washington Avenue and in Price Hill Park. The two libraries would have books for the entire family, whereas the one at Avent Park is geared toward children’s books.

The board did not vote to support the project since it wasn’t an official proposal but all of the board members in attendance said they would support it if asked. The board paid the $50 registration fee for the Avant Park library and members said they would likely support sponsoring the two new libraries if the book clubs move forward with the project.

West said Stone Park was selected because of its location to the city pool and the Boys and Girls Club, as well as the park.

“It’s a high traffic area,” she said.

West said Gaines suggested Price Hill Park as the second location.

West said the whole mission behind installing the little free libraries is to pro- mote the love of reading.

“This being a very literary town, there’s no end to how many of these can spring up,” she said. “We want to do all we can to promote reading to all generations.”