In front of the Early Childhood Center (ECC) at Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU), 37 Park Ave. in Delaware, stands a brightly decorated free-standing box full of books known as the Little Free Library.
ECC Director Kellie Hall said the library has been a wonderful addition to the school, because it helps connect the school to its neighbors.
“It’s a national program,” she said. “It’s a program not only for the school but for the neighborhood. We’re trying to get connected with our neighborhood, and we have noticed people using it by putting a book in or taking a book out.”
According to the Little Free Library website, the global literacy program, which started as a simple idea to inspire a love for reading, has grown from the first box built by Todd H. Bol in Hudson, Wisconsin, in 2009 to sharing over 120 million books and connecting thousands of neighbors.
The library in front of the ECC started when Charity Romero Rose, a pre-K teacher at the school, was reading the book “The Little Red Knit Cap Girl and the Reading Nook.” In the book, a girl and her forest friends create a community library from a hollowed-out tree.
The children at the ECC, interested in starting a library of their own, were taken on a tour by Romero Rose to Beeghly Library on the Ohio Wesleyan University campus. Romero Rose said afterward, the children went to work making the things they had seen such as library cards, a checkout station, and a signup list for the computers.
But, the children decided to share their library with everyone, so Romero Rose, having installed several Little Free Library sites for the Columbus summer literacy program, helped them to take their idea to the next level.
“What’s a Little Free Library?, they would ask,” Romero Rose said. “There is a Little Free Library by Andrew’s House on the corner of North Franklin and West Winter streets. We visited it and took a book and brought it back with us. This way the children knew what it would look like before it showed up.”
Romero Rose said students at the ECC raised funds to purchase a library box form Little Free Library by holding a bake sale at the OWU student union.
“We almost made enough money to pay for the library, which was almost $300,” she said.
When the library box arrived, Romero Rose said the children helped paint it with flamingos, frogs and suns.
“It’s for the three groups of Pink Flamingos, Green Frogs and Yellow Suns,” she said. “On the opposite side, there are Yellow Suns, Blue Butterflies and Orange Tigers. It’s so all the groups (at the ECC) were represented.
“On the back is just the logo of the school with little handprints,” she added.
Romero Rose said the library was installed this past fall.
“Each library has its own number,” she said. “If you get a book from a Little Free Library you can go online and look up the number to know where the book came from. On the Little Free Library website, we have a listing of the library and events that happen around it.”
Romero Rose said the library was intentionally built to face down the street to give the idea that it is for the neighborhood and not just for the school. She confessed that she has seen a few neighbors come and take a book.
“We are hoping to get more neighbors,” she said.
The library contains more than just children’s books. Romero Rose said there are books in there that adults will enjoy as well.
“We’re careful that they are books appropriate for children in case they pull one out,” she said. “We don’t want something in there that would not be appropriate for the kids to see.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.