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Editorial: Little libraries exemplify spirit of literary week

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Next week is National Library Week, a celebration of the value of libraries to local communities.

Johnson County residents are fortunate to be served by three library systems, Edinburgh, Johnson County and Greenwood. So every inch and every resident of the county are covered.

But perhaps nothing embodies the spirit celebrated by National Library Week than the Little Free Libraries movement, a worldwide movement that brings free books to the local community to promote literacy at every age.

Books are housed in small weatherproof boxes. They contain books of all kinds that people can borrow and return at their leisure. People also can donate their own books to the libraries.

There are no checkout rules or time limits. Of course, you don’t know what will be available, but that’s part of the adventure.

“There’s a misinterpretation that they have to leave one if they take one. It’s not that at all. If someone came in with a bag and took every one, that would be fine. We’ll find books to keep the library full,” Bargersville resident Pam Ridge said.

Ridge founded Johnson County’s first Little Free Library. She opened it in the garden behind her business, Pam’s Parlor Hair and Nail Salon. Since opening in 2012, the box has had a steady stream of readers stopping by to grab a handful of books. At other times, people reload the box with new ones.

Book it

What: Little Free Library open house

When: 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Greenwood library, 310 S. Meridian St.

Information: Jane Weisenbach, 883-4249

The program has become so popular that Ridge has established a second Little Free Library at First Christian Church, specifically for children’s books.

Now the Greenwood Public Library plans 10 Little Free Libraries throughout the city. Sites so far are The Social of Greenwood, the trailhead at Craig Park, the new splash park in City Center Park, the amphitheater, the new city building, the Esperanza Center and the Southside Art League.

“It’s a great place to promote literacy of all ages,” said Jane Weisenbach, director of development at Greenwood Public Library. “People love to share their own passions, so if I’m passionate about biographies, I’d put some biographies in there with the hope someone would take it home and share it.”

The cost of constructing and installing the Little Free Libraries is covered by a $5,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation. As a branch of the energy company, the foundation provides money for improvements in the communities Duke serves. Duke Energy has supported the Little Free Library project in Plainfield and other cities throughout Indiana, according to Steve Bahr, district manager for Duke.

“One of the focuses of the Duke Energy Foundation is literacy, both for adults and children,” he said. “Education itself is one of the forces behind the foundation. If we can do something to improve literacy for young adults and children, we want to do that.”

This movement is about as democratic an effort as you can have. It also is a celebration of reading.

We salute all of Johnson County’s libraries and wish them continued success. Promoting literacy is vital in modern society, and libraries play a key role.

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