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December 7, 2011

HARBESON: This idea is book smart

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — There’s a lot of truth in the phrase, “bigger is not always better.” For example, due to my husband’s love of NASCAR, I’m forever thankful that tiny collectible versions of his favorite cars exist. If they didn’t we’d need a lot more garage space.

I’ve always been fascinated by miniature versions of most anything. (Well, except for those miniature versions of candy bars — that’s just annoying.) So when I first saw a photo of a Little Free Library, I was immediately intrigued. These little libraries look like tiny buildings and are usually mounted outside on posts.

The idea for building tiny libraries began in Wisconsin as a fun way to support literacy and build community. The Little Free Library organization is “building and promoting ‘take a book, leave a book’ structures that fit in a front yard, by a sidewalk, coffee shop or park and are just big enough to hold 20 to 30 books that kids and adults can give and take.”

The idea attracted me on many levels.  I’m a voracious reader and I really like the voluntary, local, grass-roots aspect. Even so, I didn’t pursue it any further than bookmarking their website. But then several interesting connections happened.

Through the Courier-Journal, I found out that Jeffersonville resident Phyllis Wilkins has been working on promoting the idea, not only for the local area, but throughout Indiana. She has created Little Free Library Indiana which is a partner with Little Free Library International.

I was glad to see someone else enthused about this idea. We met last week to discuss the project and it was fun talking about all the possibilities. We came up with about a million or so.

Phyllis is planning a Little Free Library in memory of neighbors Charley and Mickey Reisert, who both passed away recently. That was yet another connection for me. Although I only knew him for a short time as a result of writing my column, Charley and I had a couple of interesting lunches discussing books we both read on politics, philosophy and economics.

This brings me to yet another connection. During one of our discussions, Charley told me he wanted to set up a lunch with me, himself and Mayor Tom Galligan. I’m always open to having lunch with anyone, but I can’t help but suspect that Charley just thought it would be fun to watch the fireworks if any heated discussions erupted.

Even though that never happened, being reminded of it did make me think this Little Free Library Indiana project might be good for Galligan. So I’d like to invite Mr. Galligan to join us in this local community project that needs people who enjoy construction. He’s going to need something to do in a few weeks after he’s no longer the mayor anyway and it might be a good idea to keep him away from bulldozers.

As a matter of fact, this project perfectly fits all local politicians recently put out to pasture. They could have complete control over a building project, with no taxpayers breathing down their necks about cost, no council members biting ankles about minor details and no columnists complaining about using government force.

Anyway, no matter who you are, if this project speaks to you as it does to me and you would like to help create little libraries throughout the local area (and there are many ways you can help), I encourage you to get involved. Phyllis is hosting the first “official” meeting of the Little Free Library Indiana at 6 p.m. Friday at the Red Cross office, 1805 E. 8th St., Jeffersonville.

You can also keep updated on this project through the Little Free Library Indiana Facebook page and the Little Free Library Indiana blog, which is at www.littlefreelibraryindiana.wordpress.com.

— Clark County resident Debbie Harbeson thinks the inventor of those miniature bite-sized candy bars must surely be a masochist. Write to debbie@debbieharbeson.com

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