100 Free Little Libraries to celebrate 100 years of service. The Rotary Club of Fort Wayne is planning a Gala on October 2nd and expects to see their dream come true by then. “It seemed like a lofty goal at the time,” stated Cadence Schuler who brought the idea to the Rotary Club back in 2013. But currently there are already 75 libraries in place with an additional 11 waiting to be installed in the area, so the finish line is near.
The Free Little Library concept was conceived by Todd Bol who made a visit to Fort Wayne in late April of this year to address the Rotary Club. Todd hails from Hudson, Wisconsin and in 2009 he built a model of a one-room schoolhouse and dedicated it to his mother who was a teacher. He attached it to a post and filled it with books inviting friends and neighbors to help themselves. Todd continued to build them thinking he might sell them. When that didn’t work out as hoped, he decided to give them away to promote literacy and education throughout the community. His dream flourished and in May of 2012 Little Free Library officially became a non-profit organization. As of January of 2015, there are an estimated 30,000 Free Little Libraries around the world.
The President Elect for The Rotary Club of Fort Wayne, Cadence Schuler, has lived all over the country and jokingly describes herself as a “corporate gypsy.” When she relocated to Fort Wayne, Schuler was invited by a friend to attend the Rotary meeting and perhaps even join a committee. Candace thought it would be a great way to do some networking but what kept her involved were the local service projects. The Rotary Club has adopted Washington Elementary School as one project. They are also currently installing a Centennial Clock Tower at the Fort Wayne Public Library. Over the past three years, the Rotary Club has raised $250,000 for use in service projects. You can learn more about the Rotary Club at fortwaynerotary.org.
Free Little Libraries are popping up everywhere. In Waynedale, you can find one at the Southwest Fire District Station #1 on Old Trail Road. Another in Winterset Addition, at the home of Dave and Kathy Aschilman, was installed last fall. Kathy stated, “Our big opening was on Halloween, when trick-or-treaters and their parents were able to select books from the library along with receiving a sweet treat.
We loved seeing the little ones hug their new book as they went running to their parents, shouting, “I got a book!” We plan to make this an annual event at our library.”
Another can be found on Conners Road. Kathy Carrier says, “Our Little Library is a neighborhood treasure. My husband Dave is a builder so he built a sturdy library, using reclaimed barn wood from the area. My grandson Joe and I are the librarians. We keep it stocked with books for all ages and we refresh the library every month or so. All are welcome!” Other recent libraries were also installed at Come as You Are Community Church on South Anthony and Trier Ridge Community Church on Hessen Cassel.
If you aren’t familiar with the Free Little Library, don’t expect a cookie cutter design. Most libraries are one of a kind; there is no limit to the creativity involved. Some are refurbished items such as a newspaper box or a British phone booth. Others resemble animals, such as Snoopy made out of a fire hydrant with the library built above. Some are simple boxes, others quite elaborate. You might find them placed inside of a building while most are located outside, even inside trees. Make time to visit the Facebook page at: Rotary Club of Fort Wayne
100 Little Free Libraries Project and scroll through the array of pictures of unique completed libraries.
Their motto is “Take a Book – Return a Book.” But if you enjoyed it, feel free to keep it and bring back another. Those who act as stewards for the Little Libraries state they have gotten to know their neighbors better and really enjoy the notes they find in the box from the children. Schuler says, “It’s more than sharing books, it’s building community.” To learn more about Free Little Libraries and the guidelines to installing one, view their website at littlefreelibraryinc.org.
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