PIQUA — If you build it, they will read.
This philosophy is proving to be true, as the books in Piqua’s new Little Free Library are going almost as fast as they can be replenished.
“I put in close to 20 books — about 10 adult books and the rest children’s,” said Kathy Alexander, who helped get the project off the ground. “I was surprised because I’ve been monitoring it and the adult books are going very quickly.”
Alexander modestly gives credit for the miniature “library” — installed in the play area at Pitsenbarger Park— to her friend Dan French.
“It was actually an idea Dan came up with after his son had seen one in San Antonio,” said Alexander, who works as a system hospitalist recruiter for Premier Health. “Dan asked if I would be interested in taking on the project here.”
Alexander accepted the challenge, deciding to do the project in memory of her late son, Clifton. “He loved to read; it was something he loved to do for both leisure and education,” she said.
The Little Free Library structure was paid for by the Clifton Foundation, a group that funds special projects and is a part of the Piqua Community Foundation’s charitable giving group. Assistance with site selection and book donation was provided by the local chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance, the cleverly named Diagon Valley — an appropriate moniker since Clifton was a fan of the Harry Potter series.
Little Free Libraries have been around since 2009, when Todd H. Bol of Hudson, Wisc., decided to build a model to install in his yard. A year later, Bol had given away 30 additional libraries to friends and family. The project continued to expand from there, growing quickly. The Little Free Library project celebrated its 50,000th installation last year. The structures can be found in all 50 states and more than 70 countries. It is estimated that 16 million books are exchanged each year through Little Free Libraries.
Visitors to Piqua’s Little Free Library are welcome to both take and leave books, said Alexander, a native Clevelander who has lived in Piqua for more than three decades. Users are encouraged to exchange books that they have finished for new reading material, to help keep the book selection constantly revolving. Returning borrowed books to the Little Free Library site is appreciated, but not required.
Alexander said she and other volunteers monitor the library to make sure there are books for all generations. “I go out every other day. There’s always a box of books in my trunk,” she said, laughing.
“We especially want to reach children and anyone that has trouble getting to the public library. Even though Piqua has a beautiful library facility downtown, sometimes it helps to know that good reading material is available in your own backyard.”
Future Little Free Libraries are planned to be located at the Bethany Center and in Fountain and Shawnee parks.
“We’ve started making contact with (Upper Valley Career Center) to build some Little Free Libraries that are unique to Piqua’s heritage and history,” Alexander added.
Though the library is essentially self-sustaining, Alexander said those who wish to volunteer in any way or make donations are welcome to contact her via email at email@example.com.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341