816 North

April 9, 2013

Little Free Library opens its tiny door in Gladstone

The Little Free Library at Oakhill Day School in Gladstone opened its Plexiglas door on Feb. 6. It is indeed little: 18 inches long, 13 inches wide and 17 inches high.

No membership cards. No return policy. No fees.

It’s a Little Free Library on the campus of Oakhill Day School in Gladstone.

And it holds about 20 books.

The Little Free Library opened its Plexiglas door on Feb. 6 as a project of the Oakhill Middle School Student Council. The library is indeed little: 18 inches long, 13 inches wide and 17 inches high.

Its collection is an assortment of titles appealing to “all generations and interests,” said Holland Gugler, 13, a seventh-grader and student council president. “We wanted to promote literacy in a fun way to the community.’’

The library is a converted schoolhouse-shaped mailbox supported by two 40-inch-high posts in front of the school at 7019 N. Cherry St.

Readers can stop by any hour of the day or night, look at the titles and take whatever catches their fancy. The books are free. There is no checking out or tracking system for books removed from the box and returning the book is optional. But reciprocating is welcome.

“You can get a book and give another book back,” said Suzanne Brown, 14, an eighth-grader.

Last week, Suzanne and other members of student council distributed fliers in the neighborhood around the school to let residents know the school’s Little Free Library is available to them.

“This is a good way for the community to get involved with our school,” said Alex Lee, 14, an eighth-grader.

The give-and-take and the local involvement are what make the little libraries successful.

The first Little Free Library opened in Wisconsin in 2009 with a mission to encourage reading and build community spirit. The Oakhill library is one of about 6,000 locations worldwide.

In Missouri, 13 library locations are listed on the website and in Kansas, 14.

Blue Springs has four downtown and a fifth one is planned for the community garden.

The Little Free Libraries have helped revitalize the downtown area, said Cindy Miller, president of Blue Springs Downtown Alive and executive vice president of America’s Community Bank.

“The response has been huge,” Miller said. “People come downtown just to see our Little Free Libraries.”

In Olathe at Rolling Ridge Elementary School, a Little Free Library was dedicated to the memory of a longtime school librarian, Marilyn Peterson, in August.

To participate, Oakhill paid $25 to register the library with the Wisconsin nonprofit and join the network of other Little Free Libraries.

Books were donated and the schoolhouse-shaped mailbox was given to the students by Amie Robertson, an Oakhill teacher whose father created the mailbox for her in 1997.

Trent Neutgens, 13, a seventh-grader, adapted the mailbox for use as a Little Free Library and added a school bell for effect.

Trent said he liked the simplicity of the little library concept and despite the popularity of new technology, Trent said, `”I don’t like to read on electronic devices. I prefer a hardback book.”

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