'Take a book, read a book, give a book'

Category:  News
Wednesday, April 24th, 2019 at 11:39 PM

They sanded them, they polished them, they painted them, and they labored over them. Four months later, they unveiled them.

The reveal, at the Edinboro YMCA on Wednesday, April 17, by the Highland Ambassadors was the latest little free library provided to the local community. The Little Free Library program was launched by the Center for Faculty Excellence, and takes donated dressers and newspaper stands and grants them to various campus organizations to be refurbished into libraries that will be filled with books and placed in various community locations.

From here, it’s all creative. Organizations work together to design their masterpieces, often working long hours before finally presenting their little libraries to the community.

“I put about 50 hours of work into the library. After my classes, I would go and spend 2-5 hours on the library,” said Kelsey Wagner of the Highland Ambassadors.

Edinboro University launched the Little Free Library initiative in Fall of 2017 (but unveiled its first library in the Spring of 2018). Raven Jones, graduate assistant in the Center for Faculty Excellence, on the origin of the initiative, said: “the program initially began as a thought by Dr. Kathleen Dailey. During her travels, Dr. Dailey discovered the Little Free Library program and it just took off from there.” The Little Free Library program is funded by the Friends of the Baron-Forness Library, the EU provost funds and the Alumni Association. 

The premise of the little free library is simple: read a book, take a book and give a book. Members of the community can borrow books for free as long as they replace it with another book. This is free of charge.

“It’s important to have little free libraries because they are free literacy resources within community areas. We place them in public locations where they are accessible to many members of the community,” said Jones. “Many library locations were selected based on the idea of the location being a ‘book desert,’ meaning that there were not many resources nearby.”

The Center for Faculty Excellence also provides the books for the libraries. They hosted a book donation drive in the Spring and Fall of 2018 and received over 7,000 books. They even allot extra books so the organizations can refill the libraries whenever they run out. These books are housed in the bottom floor of the Baron-Forness Library.

“The EU Little Free Library committee meets approximately once a month to discuss the progress of libraries and discuss ideas. The locations of the libraries are typically discussed and decided upon by the committee during these meetings. All of the libraries are located at local businesses, non-profit organizations, or schools within the area,” Jones said.

Little free libraries can be found all around the Erie and Edinboro areas, according to Jones, and the committee hopes to expand the reach of the libraries in the future. They launched the first library in Crawford County this semester, and the committee is currently discussing locations as far out as Grove City and areas in Pittsburgh.

Organizations who’ve built a little free library this year include: The Highland Ambassadors, the Graphic Design club, Student PSEA, Kappa Delta Pi, Middle and Secondary Education club, and the Health and Physical Education club. All of these organizations have built libraries to go all around the Edinboro and Erie community.

To find locations for the little free libraries, you can go online to littlefreelibrary.org. Search “Edinboro University” on the “Map” tab.  Seven new little free libraries were unveiled this semester and six last semester. The Center for Faculty Excellence hopes to unveil the 14th free little library in the Fall of 2019 at the grand opening of the ‘Boro pit.

Ishra Musa | edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

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