Take a book, leave a book

Little Free Libraries coming to Roswell’s parks

Little Free Libraries offer a place to relax and enjoy a book outdoors in neighborhoods all across North Fulton.

Book lovers rejoice – Little Free Libraries have been catching on in North Fulton neighborhoods.

These free, communal libraries may look like creative yard decorations or extravagant bird feeders, but the small boxes hold new and used books for everyone to enjoy. No fees or memberships are needed to borrow, take or exchange the books. People are welcome to just come up and read.

Currently in Roswell there are four of these libraries, but 18 new libraries are expected to join the ranks soon.

Nancy Halsema is a local Little Free Library owner who has been spearheading a project to put one Little Free Library in every Roswell park.

Halsema was first inspired to start the project when she heard about the global Little Free Library organization, then visited the libraries near her home in Johns Creek. The conditions of her local Little Free Libraries shocked her.

“When I got there, I was just horrified,” Halsema said. “The door was broken off one. There was a bird’s nest in another one. The third one just had some pamphlets and plastic cups in it. They were just in horrible shape and it made me sad.”

She tracked down the original owner of the libraries, who had since moved away, to adopt and restore them to their former glory. Hearing the positive responses to this project in her neighborhood, said Halsema, has been fun.

“I can hear people saying ‘Let’s just meet at the Little Free Library and then go for a walk,’” Halsema explained. “I can see children going to the park to play and then picking up a book when they go home. It’s just another way to be a community.”

The libraries see a lot of use. Each week, Halsema or a volunteer replenishes them with more books, but the new stock vanishes quickly. A new Harper Lee paperback she put in one evening, Halsema recalled, was gone the very next day. Kid’s books are used the most.

Inspired by her success in Johns Creek, Halsema has since turned her eyes on Roswell to spread her love of reading.

The Roswell Recreation and Parks Department recently got on board with Halsema’s mission and has agreed to put a library in each of the city’s 18 parks. She envisions that each library will have a unique, eye-catching design that reflects the spirit of the parks themselves.

“Every one of them will be painted differently and perhaps take on the environment it’s in,” Halsema said. “If it’s down in the river park, for example, it might reflect the Chattahoochee.”

She estimates that the cost of building, painting, registering and installing the libraries will be about $500 each. Any donations to the city of Roswell for the Little Free Libraries project are tax deductible. Checks can be made out to Friends of the Roswell Parks, Inc., 38 Hill St., Suite 100, Roswell.

The libraries are part of the global Little Free Library which encourages literacy, fosters community and facilitates book exchanges. Since its beginnings in 2009, the organization now boasts more than 40,000 libraries worldwide.

For information on where to find or how to start a Little Free Library, visit littlefreelibrary.org. To reach Halsema for information or donations, email nancy@idohousework.com. ■


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