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The next time you have a few spare books to get rid of, don’t toss them in the trash; consider donating them to a Little Free Library.

A concept that’s been around Fort Wayne in one form or another since 2015 — when The Rotary Club of Fort Wayne introduced the idea. They started with about 100 locations around the city – the libraries are little nooks that house several donated volumes for people to take and read at their leisure.

The hope is that as books get borrowed, many also will be donated by other Little Free Library users for their friends, neighbors and area kids to read. The concept is one that’s being promoted heavily by one local company, Cyclone Social.

“When I was growing up, I loved to read, and it seems like it’s hard to come by a great classic hard cover or paper back anymore with so many audio books being produced,” said Cyclone CEO Andrew Lamping. “So, we figured during the holidays when people are purchasing lots of new books to gift, they could re-gift their old ones. There’s no telling what treasures we’ll end up with that could be a timeless classic for someone.”

Cyclone Social Advocacy Guru Tony Belton said his company’s goal in promoting the libraries is two-fold: To promote a budget-friendly way of giving back; and to encourage youngsters to read more.
“The idea is kind of a cool twist,” Belton remarked. “We want to encourage kids to put down the tech toys, and pick up a book.”

Many of the book nooks dot the Waynedale landscape, Belton said, with Fire Station #1 on Old Trail Road and in the Winterset Addition at the home of Dave and Kathy Aschilman as featured locations of these little libraries.

And the look and design of the miniature nooks is as varied as the readers borrowing books. One little library at the downtown Fort Wayne Fire Department Station #1 on Main Street looks like a tiny fire house, perched on the top of a red fire hydrant. Another located at the First Presbyterian Church downtown features a tiny steeple to invoke the feel of a miniscule church.

Cyclone Social was founded in 2012 and is a strategic social media marketing company with its offices at 129 W. Main Street, wedged between Fort Wayne’s venerable Coney Island hot dog stand, and the relatively new Yummi Bunni ice cream parlor. Their goal is to replace at least 250 books by the first of the year.

“In today’s society,” Belton said, “everything is so high-tech. And we don’t want kids to forget about reading. And this is a great way to give back, especially around the holidays.

“We’re a company that keeps other businesses relevant,” Belton explained, “and this is something that’s keeping kids relevant for today.”

Books can be donated at any of the Little Free Library locations throughout Waynedale or elsewhere around the city, or at the Cyclone offices downtown on Main Street. Belton said kids’ books are most appreciated, especially classics like any of the volumes in the Harry Potter series; “The Giving Tree;” or “Where the Wild Things Are.”

He said folks could just make book donations part of their holiday errands.

“While people are out gifting this holiday season,” Belton said, “they should consider re-gifting as well.”

Michael Morrissey
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Michael Morrissey

Michael is a professional writer and journalist. He attended South Side High School and Northwestern University. He has written for newspapers in Michigan City, Indiana; Pekin, Illinois; and Bradenton, Florida. He also has written for and edited websites in Florida and San Francisco, California. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer