Tiny libraries built to encourage love of reading

Andrea Rose/ For Echo Pilot
Sponsors & stewards the Divelbiss family stand with their Little Free Library outside of their home across from the high school.

Unusual receptacles have been popping up across the community—three so far, with plans for nine more. They are called Little Free Libraries and the concept is simple: take a book, return a book.

The effort, which began in 2015, is an attempt to promote literacy within the community and is spearheaded by the Greencastle-Antrim School District Literacy Task Force.

The group is comprised of administrators, teachers, parents and community volunteers.

"As part of the school districts Keystones to Opportunity grant, we brought together a task force of district and community members to investigate ways to push literacy initiatives into the community. Little Free Libraries came from that group," explained Robert Crider, chief educational officer and KtO project director. "The goal is to get books into the hands of as many community members as possible and to send the message of the importance of literacy beyond the four walls of the school."

Greencastle's tiny library program was inspired by a library started in 2009 in Wisconsin by a man named Tod Bol, who built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother who was a teacher who loved to read. The idea caught on an has grown into a nonprofit organization designed to promote literacy and the love of reading worldwide.

The Little Free Library organization reached a milestone of 50,000 libraries worldwide earlier this year.

The local task force searches for sponsors who will make a donation to support the initial cost of the library and finding stewards who will be responsible for the upkeep and stocking of the libraries.

Most of the library structures are being handmade by Franklin County students at Career Tech. Sponsors have the option to paint and decorate their libraries as they wish.

As for the book exchange, passersby may take a book from the library with the good-faith gesture that they will return a book to that library in the near future. A patron may return the same book or opt to donate a different one.

The success of the libraries depends on the honor system of returning books.

For more information on Little Free Libraries, visit littlefreelibrary.org.

Greencastle's Little Free Libraries may be found: at Antrim Way Honda, 200 S. Antrim Way; The Shop, 144 E. Baltimore St.; and at 317 South Ridge Ave. across from Greencastle-Antrim High School.

Contact Andrea Rose at arose@therecordherald.com or 717-762-2151 or on Twitter @AndreaCiccociop.