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‘Read all about it’: Community increases use of Little Free Libraries

By Staff | Aug 7, 2020

This Little Free Library, located at Jefferson Memorial Park in Charles Town, receives significant use, as community members take books and leave new ones for others. Toni Milbourne

CHARLES TOWN — As the COVID-19 pandemic State of Emergency continues, libraries across the county are operating on a no-contact basis, meaning patrons are unable to enter the libraries to browse. Patrons are able to check out books online and over the phone, and pick them up at their local library.

Another way for readers to obtain books is to visit one of many Little Free Libraries around the county. Several of these libraries were built as Eagle Scout projects, such as the one Louie Wabnitz installed at Morgan’s Grove Park.

The Little Free Library at Jefferson Memorial Park in Charles Town, however, was built five years ago by Girl Scout Troop 40235.

“The little library at Jefferson Memorial Park was built by my troop when they were in fifth grade as their Bronze Award project,” said Becki Zaglifa. “At the time, it was the second little library in Jefferson County and the first in Charles Town.”

The first Little Free Library in the country is attributed to Todd Bol, from Hudson, Wis., who in 2009 built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a teacher. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. When his friends and neighbors expressed how much they liked it, he built more and gave them away.

The Free Little Library organization began gaining national media attention in 2011. Over the next year, the number of libraries jumped to over 4,000 by 2012–the same year the Little Free Library became a registered nonprofit organization.

The libraries can be found in nearly every park in Jefferson County, as well as in front of individual homes and other locations. Residents are finding them to be convenient and fun to explore.

“I discovered one located in front of the Bai’Hai Center in Ranson,” said Becky Briggs, of Ranson. “They are interesting to look through.”

Jane Brazier, of Ranson, said a new little library has been added near her neighborhood mailbox hut.

“It’s brand new and pretty small,” Brazier said, “but it has a good variety in it.”

“Our next-door-neighbor has one. He keeps it organized and it has been well used during stay at home,” said Jane Peters, of Charles Town. “I think they are great, although I love a real library more, of course.”

The premise is to take a book and leave a book, something many consistently do. ?Donna Loveless, of Harpers Ferry, has enjoyed some of the books in the libraries and has shared some of her grandson’s books in exchange. She said she would love to see more be installed throughout the county.

  • “We should add one at the park on Mission Road,” Loveless said.

James Knott, a Charles Town Police Department officer, agreed that the little libraries are popular.

“I’ve stuck a few hundred books in one over the last couple of years,” Knott said. “There seems to be a lot of use.”