The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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July 2, 2014

Little Free Libraries celebrate love of reading

LEWISBURG — The brightly colored miniature building displayed in front of 60 N. 8th St. invites people to open its glass door and select a book, or leave one.

Little Free Libraries like this one have been popping up in neighborhoods across the country since 2009 when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a miniature school house, filled it with books and put it on a post in his yard.

The concept is simple. Take a book, return a book. And it’s free.

Rick Alvarez, Susquehanna Valley regional director at CONCERN, a private, non-profit foster care service, said he was inspired to build a little library by a friend, Jessica Ackley, who has had one in front of her home at 1058 Wolverton St. in Sunbury since May 2012.

“I like the idea that books are available to people who can’t easily get them,” said Ackley, who sees people of all ages stopping to pick out a title or leave a book or two while walking or driving by.

She has no idea how many books have been shared in the past two years at the location since “I stopped counting at 1,000 books.”

Ackley, who serves as vice president of the Sunbury Hill Neighborhood, includes information about neighborhood activities in the little library she oversees.

Alvarez stamps each donated book offered at his library with a CONCERN seal and leaves bookmarks that explain the foster care program.

“It’s an innovative way to educate kids and families and spread the word that we need foster parents,” he said.

Alvarez has already collected about 40 books - including “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”; George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” - and has set out a dozen in the little library built by John Karge and Paul Stetts with materials donated by Tru Build and Sherwin Williams.

According to the Little Free Libraries web site, the initial goal was to build 2,510 libraries across the U.S. The goal was reached in 2012 and as of January, there were an estimated 15,000 registered little libraries across the world.

The project garnered controversy a few weeks ago when the city code enforcement office of Leawood, Kansas, ordered a 9-year-old boy to remove the little free library he built as a surprise for his mother because local ordinances prohibit detached structures on single-family homes.

The backlash was swift and now city officials are considering amending the code.

“I’m thankful to the city of Sunbury for allowing us to have them,” said Ackley, excited to see the community movement growing.

Other local little free libraries are located 51 S. Third St., Lewisburg; on Highland Avenue in Sunbury and 527 W. Shamokin St. in Trevorton.

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