James Rada, Jr.

Thurmont may soon get a number of new libraries in the town. The catch is that all of them will be no larger than a few square feet.

The Catoctin Area Civitan Club would like to place a Little Free Library at each of the town parks near a bench, as well as the state and federal parks and the little parks in developments.

The Little Free Library movement began in 2009,with Todd Bol in Hudson, Wisconsin. He built a model of a one-room schoolhouse and filled it with books as a way to honor his mother. She had been a teacher who loved reading. The idea was an immediate hit, as friends and neighbors began borrowing and returning books. Sometimes, they returned the same book they had borrowed; sometimes it was a different one. The idea soon spread, and now Little Free Libraries can be found in every state and roughly two dozen countries. Frederick County also has them.

“I see these everywhere I go,” said Mayor John Kinnaird. “I’ve actually stopped and utilized two of them.”

Club President-Elect Ginger Malone came up with the idea after seeing other Little Free Libraries in Frederick County. She also has a non-verbal nephew, who loves having books read to him.

“Reading is everything for the kids,” Malone said.

By placing the libraries near a park bench, it will be easy for parents to stop during a walk or have their children take a break from playing to read a story.

It is not limited to organizations like the Civitan Club. Anyone can start their own Little Free Library. While you can buy plans and kits to build a Little Free Library, some people decide to be original and build a library that reflects their personalities. The Civitan Clubs libraries will be built and painted by students in Frederick County Public School’s SUCCESS Program and will display the Civitan Club logo. SUCCESS is a program for special needs students, ages eighteen to twenty-one, who have completed four years towards a Maryland High School Certificate of Completion. It helps transition them into society.

The underlying idea behind Little Free Libraries is to give people easy access to books to encourage them to read. Little Free Libraries can’t replace public and school libraries, but they can supplement them, giving children and adults more ways to get their hands-on reading materials and their noses buried in books.

One of the nice things about the Little Free Libraries is that the books each one carries can be tailored to the preferences of the person running the library.

However, as patrons leave behind new books, users may find the types of books shifting to reflect the users’ tastes rather than the owners’. The Grifols plasma donation center in Frederick has agreed to donate books that can stock the libraries. A Frederick High School teacher and other individuals have also made book donations.

Ideally, once stocked, a Little Free Library should operate on its own, with each book being removed being replaced by another book. Weller said that she occasionally checks to make sure that there are enough books and to sometimes add new books.

There are more than 60,000 registered Little Free Libraries in more than 80 countries that loan millions of books, annually. If you are traveling and want to see if there is a Little Free Library near you, you can search the Little Free Library website (littlefreelibrary.org), where you can search by town or zip code to find the closest libraries near you.

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