Little Free Libraries arrive in Pelham, offering take-a-book, give-a-book in parks, in front of houses

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Little Free Libraries arrive in Pelham, offering take-a-book, give-a-book in parks, in front of houses

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Go out for a walk in Pelham. Here’s a small, wooden box. It looks like a big, old fashioned mailbox. But there is a door with glass on the front. Upon closer inspection, there are books inside. Many are children’s books.

These boxes are called Little Free Libraries. The Little Free Library system was created so that anyone can give a book and take a book. A reader can then enjoy the book—for free and without a library card. Throughout the world, there are more than 80,000 Little Free Libraries in over 90 countries. In Pelham, the Pelham Examiner has located three Little Free Libraries. One is on Sparks Avenue, one is in Woodland Park and one is in Chester Park.

Sarah Tapogna, an eighth grader, installed and takes care of the Little Free Library in front of her house on Sparks Avenue. When Tapogna first heard about the libraries, she decided she wanted to make one. She built the library with the help of her father and decorated it. All of the books in the library are donated. She said she loves how the little library brings her community together.

Another Little Free Library came to Pelham because of the work of Sadie Ashlock, Julia Snarr and Sarafina Deighton, who built one for their Bronze Award in Girl Scouts. For a while before they constructed one, they had heard about the little libraries and were interested in them. They painted an already-constructed library box and had quite a bit of fun doing it. The library they made is in Woodland Park along Wolfs Lane. They said they check on the library often. All the books for this library were also donated. Their favorite part was seeing it actually go into the ground and knowing, “We did that. We made that.”

The Little Free Libraries organization came about from the vision of two men. In 2009, Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, created a Little Free Library in honor of his mother, who loved reading. He put up a few, and his community loved them. When Rick Brooks, an administrator at the University of Wisconsin, saw them, he was reminded of Andrew Carnegie. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Carnegie set a goal to fund 2,508 public libraries. Bol and Brooks decided to make their own goal of funding more than 2,508 Little Free Libraries. They exceeded that in August 2012, a year and a half before they expected to. Little Free Libraries grew fast after that, with more than 4,000 of the miniature libraries in the world by the end of 2012.

The third Little Free Library the Pelham Examiner found in town is in Chester Park. It was installed by Michael Mackay. One of his neighbors, Rosemary Maggiore, suggested the idea of the library in the park on Facebook. When the idea was brought to the Chester Park Association, the members loved the idea. Mackay was picked to build the library. Mackay said he wanted to make the library because in his household books were very important, and he wanted to share that with the community.

Mackay said he sought to make sure the library matched the peaceful, quiet atmosphere of Chester Park. He found a stained glass door on eBay and constructed the shape around it. He painted it in neutral tones. He put copper around the edge of the roof to protect the books throughout the winter. The library was put in place in the summer of 2018.

When Mackay first installed the Little Free Library, he said he was worried no one would want to use it. He was proved wrong; the community loved the idea and exchanged books a great deal.