The Times West Virginian

Local News

December 6, 2013

‘Take a book ... Return a book’ theme in Fairmont, around world

FAIRMONT — “Take a book ... Return a book” is painted on thousands of Little Free Libraries around the nation and the world.

Since 2009, Little Free Libraries have been popping up in communities and now there is one located in Fairmont.

After surfing the Internet, Dave Huffman happened upon what Little Free Libraries are and decided to create his own.

“It started in Wisconsin with this gentleman, whose mother was a school teacher who loved to read,” Huffman said. “He built a small schoolhouse, placed it in his front yard, filled it with books and put a sign on it that said ‘Free Books’ as a tribute to her.”

That gentleman was Todd Bol of Hudson, Wis., who built more of these school houses and gave them away for others to start their Little Free Library.

“It just grew and grew,” Huffman said. “Then he hooked up with another guy by the name of Rick Brooks, and together they wanted to make this nationwide.”

Bol and Brooks were inspired by several ideas that came before them to grow the now-nonprofit organization, Little Free Library.

One of the ideas came from Andrew Carnegie’s support of 2,509 free public libraries in the 19th and 20th centuries.

“Bol and Brooks had a goal of beating Carnegie by having 2,510 Little Free Libraries,” Huffman said.

The two men from Wisconsin achieved that goal in August 2012. By January 2014, there are estimated to be between 10,000 and 12,000 Little Free Libraries around the world.

Huffman said he liked this idea of a Little Free Library and wanted to create his own.

“I thought it was a good idea because of where I live,” he said. “I’m near (Fairmont Senior High School), and there are a lot of walkers and people who walk their dogs. There was no reason why I shouldn’t do this. It’s a great thing for the community.”

Instead of using a small school house, Huffman found a barely used magazine holder. About a month ago, he got his books together and put them in the magazine holder outside his house.

Huffman said he put books that he has collected over the years in the Little Free Library. He said there are only about 15 books in the library now.

“The basic idea is, you take a book, read it and then return it,” he said. “It’s owned by everyone.”

Huffman said two of the organization’s missions with having Little Free Libraries is to promote reading in youths and adults, and build a strong community. He said anyone in the community is free to put books in the library.

Even though it has been up for only a month, Huffman said he has seen a good response to it. He said one gentleman visiting from another state took a book to read, then returned it.

“I had a comment book in there and people wrote great comments, but I think someone might have taken it as an actual book,” he said.

If the library starts to get low on books, Huffman said he has more that he’ll put in.

“I’m hoping that it feeds itself and that other people will add books to it,” he said. “I’m kind of curious to see how it all plays out.”

With basketball season coming up, and Huffman’s Little Free Library located across the street from Fairmont Senior’s gym, he hopes with the convenient location it will get a lot of use.

Huffman’s Little Free Library is located at 11 Park Drive in Fairmont and is the fourth Little Free Library in West Virginia.

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.

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