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Greenwood program installing 10 ‘little’ book-lending stations

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This summer, parents taking their children to the Greenwood splash pad will be able to check out a novel to read while the kids play.

In between concerts at the city amphitheater, people can grab a nonfiction history book or a collection of fairy tales to read their kids.

Searching for a good read in Greenwood is about to get easier. The Greenwood Public Library is preparing to install 10 Little Free Libraries throughout the city. The weatherproof boxes will contain books of all kinds that people can borrow and return at their leisure. People also can donate their own books to the libraries.

“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, said 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.”

Bahr contacted Greenwood Public Library officials to be one of its partner communities in installing the libraries. The opportunity to help increase literacy in the city made it a natural collaboration, Weisenbach said.

The library has worked with city agencies to find places where the book boxes can be set up.

One will go at the trailhead at Craig Park, another at the splash park and a third at the amphitheater. The new city building, the Social of Greenwood, the Southside Art League and Esperanza en Jesucristo Ministries also will have Little Free Libraries. Library officials are still finalizing the locations of the other four boxes.

“It’s a great place where people can take a book or they can bring a book back and put it in. Since it works on an honor system, the community can support it,” Weisenbach said.

The Little Free Library movement started in Wisconsin when a group of neighbors created a small lending library to promote literacy and a

sense of community. Since then, the boxes have spread all over the world. Estimates are that between 10,000 and 12,000 Little Free Libraries have been established.

The idea is to have weatherproof boxes open to the public at all times. People can take as many books as they want and keep them until they’re finished. They can bring them back or restock the library with new books, though they don’t have to.

“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.

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

The two Bargersville libraries are the only two registered with Little Free Library national officials. But Ridge said she knows of otherpeople who have set themup in their neighborhoods.

“It’s amazing. We’ve gone to the point where people bring all kinds of things to share,” Ridge said. “We have a guy who brings in puzzles. We put whatever we can fit in there. It’s a regular thing.”

The Little Free Library campaign kicks off April 12 at the Greenwood Public Library, where all 10 decorated boxes will be on display with the artists who made them. Boxes will be stocked with books from the library that are not used in general circulation.

The hope is that each box will be installed by April 19, Weisenbach said.

Almost all the boxes were built by a local woodworker. One was ordered from the Little Free Library national organization. Each site hosting a library will get to decorate the box with its own theme, Weisenbach said.

“Every place gets to pick who their artists will be and what it will look like, so each box will be different,” she said.

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