Fort Plain will be getting a Little Free Library. A motion allowing the project was carried unanimously at the October village board meeting with six-year-old Molly Shults designated as Little Library Steward.
Molly built the Little Library herself—a painted wooden box with a peaked roof which will sit on a four-by-four-inch post like a small, green bird-house—and sought permission from the village to install it in Haslett Park.
According to Casey Shults, Molly’s mother, the idea behind it is that “anyone can take a book and leave a book. It’s always a gift, never a sale.”
Molly has already collected books to stock it with. “I am getting books from people I know and I’m sharing my books from home. I hope to put my Little Free Library in the park by the bandstand,” she explained.
Exactly when and where the structure will be set up is still to be decided, however Molly was keen for the Little Library to be placed near a park bench so that people could take a book and sit down to read.
While presenting her idea to the board, Molly told the meeting that she had become interested in making a Little Free Library over the summer after seeing a girl build one on TV. Molly wanted to “follow in her footsteps,” and was “so happy” when her mother agreed.
“There are Little Free Libraries all over the world. We’d just like to see one in Fort Plain,” Shults said.
“Weekly or biweekly we’ll be checking on the library, and we’re asking people to donate books,” Shults explained. “This library belongs to everybody. We’re just going to be kind of the official steward behind it to maintain it—to make sure that it always has books and it always looks nice,” she continued.
The village’s one concern was potential vandalism. Foreman George Capece stated that he was “good with it, but I’m concerned about the safety of it, to be honest with you.”
“Vandalism certainly can happen. We are aware of that,” Shults acknowledged, but assured the board that “if that does happen, we would rebuild all over again.”
“It’s like a community watch program,” Shults added, and suggested it be placed near a light.
Molly pointed out that the Little Free Library needs to have a lightbulb inside it. “We’re trying to get a lightbulb—a motion sensor light to go inside it,” Shults agreed.
Molly’s first grade class has also installed a Little Free Library at the Harry Hoag Elementary School. On the school website, teacher Kyra Gallup encouraged others to make a Little Free Library, and expressed a hope that other Little Free Libraries would spring up in Fort Plain.
Little Free Libraries is a nonprofit organization which claims to have more than 50,000 Little Free Library book exchanges in the U.S. and worldwide—a long way from the first Little Free Library which was built as a memorial and constructed out of scrap wood.
The organization is concerned that, according to the U.S. Department of Education, more than half of the children from low income families have no books in the family home. Little Free Library aims to provide a continuous supply of free books to those most in need, since research has shown that one of the best ways to boost literacy is to make books readily available.
In 2015, the group received a Library of Congress Literacy Award for “creating communities of literacy.” The organization was commended “for its effective implementation of best practices in literacy and reading promotion.”