It has been said that reading is important because “it develops the mind and that understanding the written word is one way the mind grows in its ability.” Being in a rural county often means that much driving is required to get around. In some instances, the local library can be miles away.
The Craig County Library has now made this wonderful past-time more easily accessible by putting their ‘Little Free Libraries’ in different parts of the county.
Linda Calderon, President of the Library Board of Trustees, shared that the mission of The Little Free Libraries is “to empower individuals and build the community by bringing people, information and resources together.”
This parallels with their vision and aspirations to provide essential tools for building the community’s prosperity through education, information, and social interaction.
“The Little Free Libraries are a part of the Craig County Public Library outreach program to engage more of our patrons to access reading materials,” Calderon noted. “This is seen as a part of the library mission and values to empower individuals and community by bringing people, information and resources together in an effort to ensure access and enhancing early and life-long learning.”
The idea came from a Board of Trustees meeting when Kevin Altizer, owner of the Sign-a-rama Sign Shop in Christiansburg, donated some real estate magazine boxes that were no longer needed.
“Since the boxes look like little yellow houses, it was easy to see them as little libraries,” fellow Board members said.
Signs recognizing the boxes as a part of the Craig County Library were attached, and custodian volunteers were available to care and maintain each box that was placed.
The first box was placed at the city park, and children’s books were added. The Craig County Library owns this box and now there are four others in the county: the Wilderness Adventure Office, the intersection of 621 and Hemlock Ridge Lane, the Sinking Creek Store on Route 42 and Mountain Crafters in Paint Bank.
The library helps provide books. The boxes contain books that are available to anyone with the expectation that it will be returned or another one put in its place.
Kammie Fisher, a fifth grader who loves to read, also helps to support the Little Libraries. Her grandmother showed her the idea and thought that the Sinking Creek Store would be a great place to put one, and since, she noted that there are books gone and new ones that hadn’t been there before, so people are using it.
“They are really good for those who live far away or in remote areas from the library and would like to have books to read,” said Fisher.
The Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that inspires a love of reading and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.
New boxes can be registered with the organization and placed on a map showing the location.
The Little Free Library movement began in Wisconsin in 2009. The story is told that Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother; a teacher who loved to read. He then filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard.
His neighbors and friends loved it, so he built several more and gave them away. He and a friend were inspired by community gift-sharing networks, “take a book, leave a book” collections in coffee shops and public spaces, and most notably by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Around the turn of the 20th century, Carnegie set a goal to fund the creation of 2,508 free public libraries across the English-speaking world.
These Little Free Libraries have far surpassed Carnegie’s goal and spread around the world with at least 70,000 weather-proof boxes on posts.
“However, they have not been seen much in this part of Virginia. Only two are listed on the www.littlefreelibrary.org website in Roanoke and three in Blacksburg,” the Library noted. “Now Craig County has five.”
Sponsoring the Little Library entails locating the library in an accessible place, anchoring the library from weather conditions and ensuring books are available and perhaps going by the library for additions.
The Little Library can be registered through its organization for a fee. “They provide a small metal plaque to attach, instructions and helpful hints for common issues with the library,” said the Board before adding, “They will also place that library on a nationwide map.”
If anyone is interested in sponsoring and maintaining a Little Library, you may call or visit the library.
Calderon added, “Hopes are that the Craig County community will continue to use the Little Libraries and they will continue to grow and accel the privilege of reading to many others.”