Rotary Club of The Abingtons

First Posted: 8/4/2014

A new free public library is coming to Clarks Summit, but it will only be a small square box, mounted on a post in the pocket park under construction on Depot Street in Clarks Summit.

Participants will have the opportunity to go to the miniature library, open a very small glass door and help themselves to any book inside.They may want to put a book of ttheir own in, or perhaps, a used book their children no longer need. There will be no card catalog, no internet connection to find out what books are available in the pocket library – just the surprise of opening the miniature door and seeing what’s inside the two-story, square box.

The idea for the pocket library came from Rotarian Todd Bol, of Hudson, Wisconsin. After his mother died in 2009, he traveled around in a mini van, listening to self-help books, trying to plan his future. When he returned from that trip, he and his wife turned their garage into an office. The garage door was replaced by windows. He did not want to discard the vintage garage door, so he made it into a miniature red schoolhouse. In memory of his mother, who loved to read, he filled it with books, put it in his front yard and invited neighbors to visit the library and help themselves.

The second pocket library was started by another Wisconsin Rotarian, Rick Brooks, who liked the social aspect of the lending library. In 2010, Brooks installed a miniature library on a bike path outside an art gallery and coffee shop in Madison, Wisconsin, where thousands of people saw it.

Since then, 16,000 tiny lending libraries have sprung up in 55 countries. They often have different names, such as Lilliputian Library or Mini Library or like the one in Clarks Summit, pocket library. All have the same plan – take a book, return a book. Through word of mouth and media coverage, the libraries began appearing everywhere.

This grassroots surge has been called an “international movement” by the New York Times and The Huffington Post lists it as a “global sensation.”

Our very own pocket library is currently being designed by Rotarian and Architect Ned Connell. He sees it as an 18-inch square box with a small peaked roof and a glass door, all mounted on a sturdy post. Rotarian Howard Hyde, a well-known area architect, will act as consultant. Rotarian Harry Mumford has some cedar wood in his Long Island home, which he will transport to his Waverly workshop, where it will become the post for the little library. Rotarian Wayne Trivelpiece will add his cabinet-making ability to the project. Former Rotarian Steve Young will carve the Rotary logo into the area under the peaked roof, using his electronic laser talents to portray the symbol.

On appointed days, these craftsmen and others will meet at Mumford’s woodshop and, with fun and precision, they will cut, glue, hammer and shape those raw materials into a tiny library.

Many of the Rotarians who will work on this project are the very same men who designed and assembled the local garbage receptacles and planters 25 years ago. The planks they cut in Mumford’s woodwork shop so long ago began as same-sized boards, but became useful and decorative fixtures on area streets, sporting a colorful array of seasonal plants and flowers. You see them every day in Clarks Summit.

In that same spirit of community involvement, mixed with the fun of working together, the first local pocket library will become a reality.

Rotary Clubs throughout the world are involved in implementing the tiny libraries. The Rotary Club of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is installing 100 miniature libraries to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2015. Other Rotarians are installing the libraries in the 10,000 small U.S. towns without a public library.

Even though our library is only in the design stage, and building is far from completed, it has been registered in a library network called Little Free Library, LTD.

Its website states, “In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book or two and bring back another book to share.”

Located in Hudson, Wisconsin, this organization has identified on a map where all the tiny libraries are located. The Clarks Summit location will be included on that map.

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