Resembling The University of Findlay’s signature building, but with some additional touches that feature other campus landmarks, the tiny, free and fun project is part of the international Little Free Library movement that encourages reading.
Located on the north side of Frazer Street to the west of Main Street, it represents the seventh Little Free Library installed in Findlay. Allison Baer, Ph.D., associate professor of reading, built the first one in Findlay in front of her home at 1827 Brookside Drive; Julie McIntosh, Ed.D, dean of the College of Education, has one at her house; and with the help of the The Clubhouse, UF’s free reading center for Hancock County students in need of additional reading instruction, which Baer directs, Marathon Petroleum Corporation placed four more throughout the city.
“I brought up the suggestion for a UF Little Free Library to Lisa Dager (UF’s data manager and Teacher Resource Center Coordinator), and we presented it to Dr. McIntosh and the College of Education. They all jumped at the opportunity to have one built and installed,” said Baer.
Jim Musser, whom Baer described as “an amazingly talented man who can build and do absolutely everything,” built the University’s tiny home for tomes, which is registered with the Little Free Library organization. College of Education faculty and staff will be monitoring the library and ensuring that a decent reading selection is maintained.
Anyone of any age from the campus or community is encouraged to take a book and/or leave a book.
“Pretty much any kind of book is welcomed,” said Baer. “We will include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children’s, young adult, anything! I have all kinds of books in my library. People can leave books or take books, bring them back or keep them. That’s the spirit of the Little Free Library.”
“If we happen to see something in there that might be considered inappropriate, we will take it out as children are welcomed to use it, so there does need to be some discretion.”
The movement’s inception is credited to Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, who built a model of a one-room schoolhouse in 2009 “as a tribute to his mother, a former teacher who loved reading,” the website, www.littlefreelibrary.org, states. People loved it so much that he built several more and gave them away. Bol eventually teamed with Rick Brooks from the University of Wisconsin-Nevada to promote the idea as a social enterprise with a clear educational bent.
Little Free Library kits can be bought from the website, and custom libraries can be ordered. Those who are handy can also build their own and register them on the site, which maps them.
Baer is enamored of the University’s new edition and judging from personal and social media feedback, others are too, she said.
“I think it’s quite extraordinary and a really nice addition to our UF community,” said Baer.