News and Tribune

Clark County

December 7, 2011

Little Libraries coming to Jeffersonville

Literacy effort also drawing community together

JEFFERSONVILLE — If a local group has their way, several new libraries will be popping up soon in Jeffersonville.

But the new libraries will not compete with Jeffersonville’s Public Library and will actually only be a few square feet in size.

The effort is part of a free book exchange program called Little Free Libraries, a concept that originated in Wisconsin with Todd Bol and Rick Brooks. The men designed the program to promote literacy and community by constructing a small, waterproof box — often designed to look like a small house — sitting atop a four by four pole. The boxes are filled with books that are free to take and encourages participants to leave a different book under the mantra: “Take a book, leave a book. Leave a note.”

And a group of Southern Indiana volunteers is looking to bring the first of the Little Free Libraries to Indiana.

“It just really touched me and I felt like it would be something Jeffersonville, in particular, would embrace,” said Phyllis Wilkins, who is one of the leaders of the local effort.

She said she approached another local group involved in the community and promoting literacy that included her friend and neighbor Charley Reisert as a way to honor him. Reisert, who died in October, was a board member for the Jeffersonville Township Library, the Clark County Youth Shelter and, along with his late-wife Mickey, a recipient of the Bales Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2009.

“I thought this might be a way we could honor his memory,” Wilkins said.

As a result the group planned the area’s first Little Free Library to be constructed in Jeffersonville’s Cherry Hill neighborhood, in memory of Charley and Mickey Reisert.

And before the first Little Library has been constructed the effort has expanded. A second Little Library has already been planned in memory of Ed Crooks at the Clark County Youth Shelter.

“It’s a grassroots effort that appeals to people for a lot of different reasons,” Wilkins said.

For Roger Fisher, owner of Budget Print Center in Jeffersonville and a volunteer involved in the Little Library campaign, he said the effort intrigued him because it makes reading more freely available to those that may not have easy access.

By adding locations in, and convenience to, neighborhoods he said it adds accessibility for some. In addition, providing the books for free adds to a sense of honesty for those participating, he said.

Wilkins offered the program is also something that can tie the community together.

“I see this as an outreach of the library,” she said. “I think as a community we don’t socialize with our neighbors as much as we used to. [It] may become a conversation piece in our little neighborhood.”

Wilkins added that different groups have expressed interest in participating in the program including local artists that have offered to decorate the Little Libraries.

“I think it’s just opening a whole lot of possibilities of people working together,” she said. “I think each one of them is going to take on a life of their own.”

Fisher added another incentive in getting involved in the program is that it is simple for volunteers.

“It’s all low technology ... it just takes effort,” he said.

Offering the “low technology” alternative in the ever-expanding market of electronic readers, in addition to access for the public, offers another benefit, Fisher said.

“There’s something satisfying about turning a page,” he said.

Wilkins said there has been a good amount of interest from volunteers, but the group is still looking for individuals that are able to construct the boxes for the Little Library.

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