Rotary Club of Faribault

Posted by Misty Schwab on Jan 05, 2018

The need to read!

Little libraries like the one outside the home of Judy Carver at 28 State Ave., across the street from the Allina Clinic, have attracted readers since July 2016. Richard Huston, who adopted the idea of the Faribault Rotary Club’s international outreach program, said he’s please with the circulation the libraries maintain. Carver is the librarian at Lincoln Elementary. When she saw that Rotary was placing the Little Libraries she wanted to become involved and maintain this one. Pictured putting a book in the library is Judy Carver’s granddaughter, Evie Isaacson. (Daily News file photo)Little Library

They look like birdhouses, or maybe mailboxes, but the blue and yellow structures scattered throughout town are actually little libraries the Faribault Rotary Club installed over a year ago. The 2016 international outreach project has served the local community and promoted literacy ever since.

“Literacy was one of the big efforts of our president (Richard Huston) a couple years ago,” said Dick Cook, chair of Faribault Rotary’s International Services Committee. “We took [the little libraries] on because of the demographic in Faribault and the diversity at the schools.”

I’m really big on education, and I think that if you learn to read you can accomplish anything,” said Huston.

Cook and Huston both built the little libraries, which they distributed throughout the community in 2016. Cook said eight or nine of them are now installed outside schools, churches, businesses and private residences throughout Faribault. However, Cook said not all little libraries in town are part of the Faribault Rotary program; some homeowners set them up before the Rotary Club adopted the project.

Seeing little libraries set up in the Twin Cities inspired Huston’s idea to adopt the program in Faribault as the Rotary International’s outreach program in 2016.

“I went to the Twin Cities and photographed eight to 10 I saw there, and they weren’t all the same, so I created my own ideas and dimensions based on what I saw,” said Houston.

Little libraries painted yellow and blue signify their connection with the Rotary, but Huston said he’s painted flowers and other decorations on the house-like boxes. Maggie Chen, an exchange student from Taiwan who Huston and his wife hosted at the time of the project’s conception, painted the one outside Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

The installation of the little library outside Our Savior’s Church kicked off the Faribault Rotary’s project in July 2016. Cook said that installation inspired a couple requests from Faribault residents to monitor little libraries on their own properties. The Rotary approved those requests after evaluating the suggested locations.

Any resident with a little library installed on his or her property is responsible for monitoring and maintaining the library, and volunteers monitor little libraries outside churches, schools and businesses. However, Cook said patrons generally follow the concept of taking a book and leaving another without much guidance.

Huston monitors the little library at Our Savior’s Church, where he attends services. He tends to add children’s books to the selection while others give away books for adults. If possible, he tries to collect books pertaining to the season. On the rare occasion when the little library needs more books, he informs the congregation of the need.

“There’s a pretty good turnover,” said Huston. “People are not only taking books, but putting books in there. I see quite a bit of variety.”

Jefferson and Lincoln Elementary Schools have taken on little libraries. Cook and Huston both noted ones located outside Congregational Church, kitty-corner from the former Divine Mercy Church building, and at the State Avenue home of Lincoln Elementary librarian Judy Carver.

“If people want them, I would certainly make sure we got it done,” said Huston. “I would build it or someone else would build it.”

After a couple years in the works, Huston said the little libraries still attract patrons and maintain circulation.

“It’s pretty interesting and gratifying to see people are using them to the extent they are,” said Huston.

 

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-744-2551. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty.

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