Little libraries are popping up all over

OKEECHOBEE — The Girl Scouts, in cooperation with the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee, collaborated in a project that brought a Lending Library to Kiwanis Park in Okeechobee.

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This little library was sponsored by the Girl Scouts and the Kiwanis Club and was built by the carpentry class at Okeechobee High School.

The idea was brought up by local Girl Scout Abby Leveque, and the troop approached the Kiwanis Club to help finance the project. The idea is to take a book and leave a book for others in the box, and the goal is to promote reading. Representatives from the Girl Scouts, Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee along with the Okeechobee County Library and county officials were on hand for the opening.

The Lending Library was made by the Okeechobee High School carpentry class and is already being well-used, said Sonya Chapa, who works for the Okeechobee County Library.

This Little Free Library is actually the fourth in Okeechobee. The first was made by a local teacher, Al Cole, who said he and his family first came across these boxes while geocaching and thought they were a great idea. “We have found a few dozen all over the place on our geocaching adventures,” said Mr. Cole. When he realized there were none in Okeechobee, he constructed his Little Free Library and then registered it online with Littlefreelibrary.org, where they have a map of the locations of the little libraries all over the world.

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This box is located in front of Central Elementary School.

“I made mine because, as an educator, I like giving as many opportunities to read and learn as possible, especially for young learners,” he said. The box he placed in front of his house on Northeast Third Circle in Quail Creek is used regularly by neighborhood children and even some adults. Mr. Cole has several more cut out and plans to put them in different locations around town, beginning with one at Oakview Baptist Church.

The second little library was erected in front of Central Elementary School a few months ago, and the third is located inside the Brown Cow Sweetery on Park Street.

The only box officially registered in Okeechobee is Mr. Cole’s. It costs about $40 per box to register them.

Ms. Chapa said they are working with the Parks and Recreation Department to have 30 Little Free Libraries made. The project has been in the works for a couple of years now, she said. They were all built through Home Builders Institute and were donated. The library should be receiving them soon, and then after the New Year, they will begin installing a few at a time.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
This Little Free Library is located in front of the home of Al Cole on Northeast Third Circle. It is the only registered Little Free Library in Okeechobee.

They plan to put them up all over the county, including Buckhead Ridge and Basinger — all the places on the outskirts of the county. They will be a little different from the regular Little Free Libraries, in that they encourage people to take the books and keep them rather than return them. The library will restock the boxes. They will be working with the Rotary Club and some other organizations to purchase children’s books to stock in the little libraries.

Right now, Ms. Chapa is working on a grant to try to get the money to have the boxes registered. If the grant does not work out, she has some other ideas, but she hopes this one comes through because it would also provide $4,000 to $5,000 to use for books on health literacy in English and in Spanish.

They are hoping to host library hours at the different locations somewhere down the road, and then eventually maybe have a bookmobile. “The more we are out there in the community, the more people will realize we are here to help them,” said Ms. Chapa.

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