2017-07-17 / Front Page

Little Free Libraries come to Grantham

By CAMERON PAQUETTE

Dunbar Free Library trustee Bob McCarthy and his wife Judy browse the selection of books at the Dunbar Little Free Library at Rum Brook Plaza in Grantham on Saturday, July 15. — CAMERON PAQUETTEDunbar Free Library trustee Bob McCarthy and his wife Judy browse the selection of books at the Dunbar Little Free Library at Rum Brook Plaza in Grantham on Saturday, July 15. — CAMERON PAQUETTEGRANTHAM — Despite all of the technological innovations that have developed in the past century, nothing quite has the same feel or novelty as book.

“There are people who find that they want to turn a page,” said Dunbar Free Library Director Dawn Huston. “There have been paper books since ancient times … there’s something about turning a page that isn’t going to change.”

And in the interest of making books as accessible as possible to Grantham residents, the library has partnered with community organizations to create three “Little Free Libraries” throughout town. A celebration and ribbon cutting for the Dunbar Little Free Library was held Saturday at Rum Brook Plaza off Route 10, the site of the lastest of the three Grantham Little Free Libraries constructed.

About 40 residents braved the threat of rain for Saturday’s celebration, including District 8 Sen. Ruth Ward, who read a Senate proclamation for the event. Letters of support were also sent from U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen, as well as from Rep. Annie Kuster.

“Their extraordinary efforts exemplify the all hands on deck spirit of New Hampshire’s people, where we roll up our sleeves, pitch in and together move our state forward,” Hassan stated of the efforts of library officials.

Huston said she was approached multiple times several years ago about the idea, but couldn’t launch it at the time because of other projects. One of those people was Beverly Marshall, a member of the library board of trustees and chair of the Dunbar Little Free LIbrary Committee. She approached the board roughly two years ago about the idea after noticing that Little Free Libraries were popping up in other areas.

“I believe that an educated, well-read public is fundamental to the health of a society,” Marshall said in a media release. “When I first learned about the Little Free Library organization, I saw an opportunity to promote reading for people of all ages in Grantham. The project was also a way to honor the memory of my late husband, who was an avid reader and a big fan of the Dunbar Free Library.”

A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common version is a small wooden box of books. Anyone may take a book or bring a book to share, all according to the Little Free Library nonprofit website.

The three Little Free Libraries in Grantham are the latest small, front-yard book exchanges to be created in what has become a global initiative. The burgeoning phenomenon got its start in 2009 when Todd Nol of Wisconsin constructed the first Little Free Library — a miniature schoolhouse — as a tribute to his mother, a teacher who loved to read.

Nol partnered with Rick Brooks of the University of Wisconsin with the goal of helping to create as many as possible across the nation. In 2016, the nonprofit surpassed 50,000 registered Little Free Libraries in all U.S. states and over 70 countries.

The nonprofit organization has been honored by the Library of Congress, the National Book Foundation, and the American Library Association. Each year, nearly 10 million books are shared in Little Free Libraries.

Grantham’s three Little Free Libraries are located at the plaza at 249 Route 10, the Eastman Community Association’s South Cove, and at Brookside Park. Each of the small book boxes has a unique design, and was built by a group of 11 members of the Eastman Youth Conservation Corp. John Larrabee was able to secure funding and materials from the Eastman Charitable Foundation to carry out the project.

“Real,” “Dream,” “Imagine” and similar words are brightly painted on the side of the plaza’s Little Free Library, which also features a painting of the Dunbar Free Library on the front. The one at the South Cove, on the other hand, features a painting of a lakefront landscape on the side.

Marshall said Rum Brook Plaza owner Sara Hastings has been “nothing but caring” in donating space in the grassy area to the left of the parking lot for the Little Free Library. She said that in deciding a location for the Little Free Library, committee members wanted it to be in a visible, public area that is safe and has snow removal in the winter.

And with the plaza’s pirate ship playground only 20 yards away, parents can now sit down for a good read while their children play away. The Little Free Libraries will be stocked by board members.

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