The following is the second of two stories about Little Free Libraries in Kosciusko County. This story focuses on how to set up a Little Free Library, why local residents and organizations in the county decided to establish their own, and how Little Free Libraries can help the community.
KOSCIUSKO — There are approximately 80,000 people in Kosciusko County and 11 Little Free Libraries officially registered in the immediate area. That’s a little more than 7,200 people per Little Free Library.
Anyone can install their own Little Free Library to help expand the number that’s in the county and available for public use. According to the Little Free Library website, it only takes three steps to establish one.
The first is picking out a location, as well as who will maintain the library. Establishers tend to place them near schools, parks, churches and other public areas.
“I try and keep the top shelf of the library filled with books for beginning or early readers,” said Susan Zuanella, who maintains the Little Free Library at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Pierceton. “The bottom part is all books for adults.”
The next step is getting a library and determining whether the stand will be built or bought through the Little Free Library website. Library kits on the organization’s website are in the $300 to $400 price range.
“Some people get so creative with their Libraries,” said Mary Helen Gensch, Pierceton Elementary School. “I’ve seen people online design the coolest things, like one that looks like a dollhouse. One person decorated a bike and used it as a Little Free Library.”
The final step, which is optional, is registering the Little Free Library through the Little Free Library website. Libraries purchased through the organization are automatically registered. All libraries that are registered are marked on the LFL’s world map.
“Even though our Little Free Library is still new, we have been getting a lot of use with it,” said Hilary Stouder, Pierceton Elementary School. “Having a book, just owning one, can change your identity as a reader. It’s really important to keep track of what’s new in the reading world and watch for exciting things to see what types of books are really popular.”
According to a survey conducted by Little Free Library staff in October 2017, three out of four people report they’ve read a book they normally wouldn’t have read because of a Little Free Library near them. Some users even leave inspirational messages or thank-you notes at the libraries.
Recently, the Little Free Library Facebook page shared a note that was left at a stand by a stroke survivor.
“Reading helped me, I’m sure,” read the note. “I walk with my neighbor every morning. He graciously lets me mull over books at your library. I’ve found many a good book here and wanted to thank you. That’s all. Just thank you. You’ve made a difference in my life.”
Another note left at a Little Free Library read, “When my kiddo left school sick, she asked me to bring her to her favorite spot to see if there was a book she could curl up with. Thank you for giving her comfort.”
Each person who establishes a Little Free Library has their own reasons for setting one up, but all share the same passion and love for reading and books.
“There’s butterflies on my Little Free Library because my mother told me and my daughters when she passed, that she would come back as a butterfly,” said Carol Noll, Leesburg. “And at her grave, at her funeral, a butterfly came and landed on all of our shoulders. She loved reading.”
“These libraries are really a way to open up for people,” said Beth Anne Cox, who maintains a Little Free Library in Winona Lake. “Reading in general just shows that anything is possible once you read about it. It expands your mind. Maintaining a Little Free Library has helped me keep my dream alive of having my own bookstore someday.”
“I think it’s great to have a Little Free Library for kids and adults that’s available all the time,” said Debbie Griggs, Calvary Lutheran Church. “We’re always trying to help in the community and we thought this was one great way to do so.”
“I love that they [Little Free Library users] can exchange their book for something they haven’t read yet,” said Deb Connett, Wawasee Middle School. “Books are therefore recycled and are being used over and over again.”
“My favorite thing is to come into the park and see someone reading!” said Lorraine Deffenbaugh, establisher of one of the Little Free Libraries at Winona Lake Limitless Park. “Or when I am carrying in a box of books, sometimes little kids ask for one. My heart just melts!”
The following is a list of Little Free Libraries that are registered on the littlefreelibrary.org map:
- 1606 E. Springhill Road, Warsaw
- 399 N. Lake Placid Drive, Warsaw
- Winona Lake Limitless Park – 1590 Park Ave. There are two next to each other at this location.
- 103 11th St., Winona Lake
- Clover Park – 210 E. Van Buren St., Leesburg
- 9787 E. Excalibur Place, Cromwell
- Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park – 1916 N. CR 850E, Pierceton
- Pierceton Elementary School – 304 W. School St.
There are also Little Free Libraries established at Leesburg Elementary School, Syracuse Elementary School and Wawasee Middle School that are only accessible to each school’s students and staff. A Little Free Library that is not registered on the official website is also located at the corner of College Avenue and 13th Street in Winona Lake.