Lexington staff, residents create ‘Little Free Libraries’

 In early 2011, Kendal Charitable Funds made a grant to each Kendal affiliate of $5,000. The funds were to be used for community outreach and to advance Kendal’s diversity initiative. After a lot of consideration from the Kendal at Lexington team, a decision was made to use the funds to build and stock “Little Free Libraries.”

Steve Jewell, then Executive Director of Kendal, learned of Little Free Libraries after reading an article from DailyGood.org. Little Free Libraries was created by Todd Bol of Madison, Wisconsin, after the death of his mother. She was an avid reader and book lover. He built the first library as a way to honor her. The miniature library was constructed by Bol and installed outside his home. He stocked it with books with the idea of ‘take a book, leave a book.’ The library was a success and the movement has significantly grown.

Just two years after the first library, there are estimated to be between 300 and 400 Little Free Libraries, located in 24 states and 8 countries. In fact, Little Free Libraries has most recently been featured on NBC Nightly News and in USA Today. The libraries help spread the love of reading and of books, with many being located in underserved areas. The libraries consist of a waterproof box on a pole with a peaked roof and a plexi-glass front. They are stocked with books to be loaned out and returned. Borrowers may also give books of their own.

Ron Smith, Kendal’s Director of Facility Services, made the original Little Library for Kendal at Lexington’s project. Since then, resident Lloyd Craighill has created several little houses of varying sizes and finishes, and other residents, like Harrison Bicknell, have assisted in the woodshop at Kendal.

Sarah Giddings and Anne Preuss, members of the Library Committee have helped to organize a theme and procure books for each library. The ladies share how much they’ve thoroughly enjoyed shopping for books for children and pre-teens, on health, and an array of other topics.

Eight sites in Rockbridge County have been chosen as a library location, each with a different theme.

The first Little Free Library was installed by residents and members of the Facilities Staff in March 2012 at Lime Kiln Bridge Park. Just after installation, a mother was enjoying the new library with her girls, Olivia and Zoey. Olivia commented, “that’s really cool, a free library right here in the park!”