September 14, 2013

Champlain Little Free Library offers books for all ages

By AMY HEGGEN Press-Republican

---- — CHAMPLAIN — Take a book or leave a book, the new Little Free Library on Church Street in Champlain encourages reading and builds a sense of community.

Janet McFetridge, a retired teacher, originally saw the idea on Pinterest and tracked down Little Free Library, a nonprofit organization based in Wisconsin that offers plans and tips for people who wish to create a small library for their community.

“The idea is that you have this little lending library for people who walk or drive by your house,” she said. “If they want to keep the book, they can. If they want to drop one off, they can.”

According to the Little Free Library website, between 5,000 and 6,000 registered Little Libraries have been built in 36 countries. McFetridge’s library is also on the map.

The structure in her front yard measures 12 by 24 inches and holds about 50 books. 

“We painted it to look like an old-fashioned red schoolhouse,” she said. 

Other Little Free Libraries, McFetridge said, are built to look like farmhouses, barns or a variety of other styles. She found the plans and building specifications on the Little Free Library Website.

“My husband and I built it, and we built it entirely out of recycled materials that we had around the house,” she said. “A lot of it came from our old kitchen — the plywood and the door handle.”

McFetridge stocked the library herself with the help of a kindergarten teacher who donated children’s books. She anticipates needing book donations to keep the library stocked.

“I’ve had a fair amount of traffic this summer,” McFetridge said. “About every 10 days, I go and take out three or four books, and I rotate them.”

A boy who lives nearby begged his grandparents to take him to the library, she said, and the woman even borrowed reading material for herself.

“I’ve had some interesting books going in and out of my library this summer,” she said. “I’ve got books for little ones and adults, fiction and non-fiction.”

McFetridge said the Little Library isn’t meant to take the place of the local public library, but she hopes it will get people out and walking around. 

“It’s a little surprise along the sidewalk. It’s more of a community outreach sort of thing, rather than a real library,” McFetridge said.

She encourages others to build their own.

“It’s a nice little addition to a neighborhood, and it’s for all ages, which is really nice.

“We’d be happy to talk to anyone who’d like to build one.”