November 24, 2014

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Investment for Little Free Libraries stretches further than expected

Ana Scarpucci, 8, looks at the Little Free Libary of the Rochester United Methodist Church at a celebration Saturday at Lorain County Joint Vocational School. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Ana Scarpucci, 8, looks at the Little Free Libary of the Rochester United Methodist Church at a celebration Saturday at Lorain County Joint Vocational School. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

There were supposed to be just 30. That’s how many Little Free Libraries the Stocker Foundation thought its initial investment of $30,000 would construct and install in Lorain County. But since announcing the initiative in November, support of the program has been phenomenal.

Melanie Wilson, the foundation’s grant manager, said nearly double the number of Little Free Libraries will be chartered through the Stocker Foundation. The count is 55 libraries with a waiting list of four more.

“Our board is absolutely proud and happy,” Wilson said. “We never dreamed it would be this big, never dreamed $30,000 would go this far.”

On Saturday, the libraries — including a library built and painted to resemble a yellow school bus and another that is a replica of the Wellington Town Hall — were the stars of a Little Free Library launch party at the Lorain County Joint Vocational School.

In all, more than 40 libraries were on display.

“Each library is so unique and wonderfully built,” Wilson said. “The libraries are just as unique as the communities they will be located in.”

The Chronicle-Telegram will have a little library by the front entrance that looks like its building, and the Magyar United Church of Christ on West River Road South will be home to a cool, eco-friendly little library covered in tree bark.

Adele Hanford Infante, director of Grafton-Midview Public Library, looks at the Little Free Library buildings on display.

Adele Hanford Infante, director of Grafton-Midview Public Library, looks at the Little Free Library buildings on display.

The Stocker Foundation was able to stretch its dollars thanks to the JVS carpentry program, which built many of the libraries, as well as skilled workers at the reintegration center within Grafton Correctional Institute. There were also donations of paint from Sherwin-Williams and installation work by Hartman Construction.

Wilson said as soon as people learned what the libraries were — in its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book and bring back another book to share — they were ready to help any way they could.

“It appeals to everyone,” she said. “No one has ever said to me this will take the place of libraries or hurt libraries.”

Patricia O’Brien, the foundation’s executive director, said putting a book in the hands of a child and the state’s new third-grade guarantee are closely linked. Reading is something children have to do often to do well, she said.

“And, to read well, you have to have access to books — not just in the schools and traditional libraries, but in the neighborhoods and communities,” she said.

It’s hard to gauge just how significant the Stocker commitment to the Little Free Library program ranks nationally.

Todd Bol, executive director and co-founder, said they are right up there with AARP.

The conservative estimate of the number of Little Free Libraries in the world is between 10,000 and 11,000, according to a September quarterly report from the national organization. But nailing down a number is hard because new libraries are popping up all over every day.

Wilson said the Lorain County initiative started after one in Cleveland, but has sprung so far ahead she is working to connect Cleveland organizers with the Grafton Reintegration Center so inmates can construct 100 libraries for Cuyahoga County.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

LITTLE LIBRARY LOCATIONS

  • Amherst, 671 Franklin Ave.
  • Avon, 2010 Recreation Lane
  • Avon Lake, 32649 Electric Blvd.
  • Avon Lake, 166 Lakewood Drive
  • Brighton, 21938 state Route 511
  • Brownhelm Township, 1605 North Ridge Road
  • Carlisle Township, 10425 Middle Ave./Colonial Oaks MH Park
  • Carlisle Township, 39572 Robert Lane
  • Eaton Township, Eaton Estates/Royalton Road
  • Elyria, 6119 West River Road S./Maygar UCC Church
  • Elyria, 844 Livermore St.
  • Elyria, 442 Louisiana Ave./Community Garden
  • Elyria, 8 Phillip Court
  • Elyria, 578 Cleveland St./White’s Auto Care
  • Elyria, 1821 Middle Ave.
  • Elyria, 321 S. Maple St.
  • Elyria, 225 East Ave.
  • Elyria, 318 West Ave.
  • Elyria, 639 Cornell Ave.
  • Elyria, 88 Laundon
  • Elyria, 1410 Prospect St./Prospect School
  • Elyria, 104 Louden Court/Wilkes Villa
  • Elyria, 233 Bond St.
  • Elyria, 1005 Rosealee Ave.
  • Elyria, 1005 N. Abbe Road
  • Elyria, North Recreation Park/Duffy Street
  • Elyria, Township 42331 Griswold Road
  • Grafton, 2500 Avon Belden Road
  • Grafton, Novak Road/Elm Street
  • Grafton, 420 N. Main St.
  • Grafton Township, 17109 Avon Belden Road
  • Kipton, 56 Rosa St.
  • LaGrange Township, 12882 Diagonal Road
  • Lorain, 1205 Broadway
  • Lorain, 319 Black River Landing
  • Lorain, 2153 Lorain Drive
  • Lorain, 201 W. 21st St.
  • Lorain, 3745 Grove Ave.
  • Lorain, 1917 North Ridge Road
  • Lorain, 205 W. 20th St.
  • Lorain, 5440 Grove Ave.
  • New Russia Township, 46268 Butternut Ridge Road
  • North Ridgeville, corner of Meadow Lakes Blvd and Overlook Way
  • Oberlin, 15181 state Route 58
  • Oberlin, 73 1/2 W. Professor St.
  • Oberlin, 317 E. College St.
  • Pittsfield, 201 S. State St.
  • Pittsfield Township, 46789 U.S. Route 20
  • South Amherst, 103 W. Main St.
  • South Amherst, West Main Street
  • Sheffield Lake, 4575 Lake Road
  • Vermilion, 4472 Mapleview Drive
  • Wellington, 503 E. Herrick
  • Wellington, 340 Fieldstone Court


  • oldruss

    Let’s hope the kids can even read these books, especially those in the Lorain City School District, where some 52% of the Third Graders were rated as Limited.

    • Haras Smith

      Guess that makes it even more important for the kids to have access to as many different books as possible.

      • oldruss

        I have no problem with making books available to everyone, and I thought that was what our libraries already did (with support from local property taxes). But if you think putting up 50 or even 100 of these “Little Free Libraries” is going to boost the reading levels in the LCSD, I’m afraid you are going to be badly disappointed.

  • golfingirl

    If the libraries are truly “free,” I am all for it.

    Private contributions are the way to fund these types of projects.

    Thanks to the greedy “wealthy” for providing these services through their foundations. Are their any unions participating?