Published in the Rains County Leader on April 20, 2021:
Being President of the Friends of the Library has been a learning experience, and I’m still learning even though I’m almost half-way through my three-year term. Last week was doubly enlightening as I learned what actually goes into preparing for the Semi-Annual Book Sale and also all about Little Free Libraries.
Actually, the Book Sale lessons began early last year when Jane Dillon, who had been in charge of the FOL’s biggest fund raiser for ten years, announced that she was stepping down after the October, 2020 sale. I was involved in last year’s sale, but nothing shows how little you really know like acting as the go-to person when you don’t know where you’re going. After studying the detailed notes Jane had left, I attempted to coordinate communication, publicity, inventory, facility details, transportation of books from storage to venue, hospitality, the financial operation, and the sale itself. Thanks to Jane’s generous tutoring, advice, and hands-on assistance along with an amazing group of experienced and inexperienced volunteers, we had an extremely successful sale – and a lot of fun as well. One of the really fun parts was learning more about Little Free Libraries.
Before the Sale, Little Free Library was just another item on a Board meeting agenda. Someone else took care of any related issues, reported back with an “all’s well” kind of report and we moved on to the next item. But we’ve had several new members join us in the last few months, and they haven’t yet learned that I have no idea what I’m doing. When they have a question, they come to me, and since it’s difficult to gracefully dodge a direct question, I try to find an answer.
Fawncyne Worley, the wife of the new Director of the Emory Development Corporation, has jumped into the community life of her new home town with both feet. At her first FOL meeting, she not only joined but she also volunteered to help with set-up before the sale and at the check-out table during. One morning while we were taking a break from unboxing books she approached me with a question.
“Who takes care of that little book box in the park?” she asked.
One of my philosophies of life is that if you say something with enough confidence, people will think you know what you’re talking about. “Oh,” I replied. “That’s the Little Free Library. I think Cindy Cooper usually does that.”
Cindy wasn’t there to confirm or deny my statement, but hearing my own assertion boosted my confidence, so I continued. “I seem to remember that at a recent meeting she said she usually gathers books at the sale to fill it. But it’s my understanding that anyone can add books.”
“So would it be okay if I picked out some books and filled it up?” asked Fawncyne. “It’s completely empty, and it looks a little sad.”
“That would be great,” I responded, thinking I had dodged another bullet – but she wasn’t finished.
“By the way, Bert Roan at Reka’s said he’s been wanting to put a Little Free Library in his parking lot. Is that possible?”
Another of my philosophies is that it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission, so I pushed further into unknown territory. “I’m sure it is. I’ll see what we can do.”
That night, I thought about our conversation, and I remembered that Linda Pietila, another newbie, said her husband usually asks after every meeting what she volunteered him to do. The next day I told her what was going on and asked if her husband would be willing to build a Little Free Library. She said he would love it and that he has lots of scrap wood that he could use.
I finally had a chance to check my facts with Cindy, and so far I had been correct. But it was time to learn a little more about these little libraries before my luck ran out. I discovered that Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization founded in 2009 to build community, inspire readers, and expand book access through a network of little libraries. These libraries are small book-sharing boxes maintained by volunteers where anyone can take a book and/or leave a book. The boxes can be registered so they will appear on a locator map to make it easier to find one in a particular area. In just twelve years, more than 100,000 Little Free Libraries have been registered in 108 countries – and three of them are in Rains County.
One Little Free Library is in Rubye McKeown City Park on Quitman Street – and thanks to Fawncyne, it is now full. Another can be found in Point at 462 Hwy 276. Both of these boxes are maintained by the Friends of the Rains County Public Library. The third is located on Locust Street at Avenue D in Point and is maintained by the Point City Library and the Point Ladies Civic Club. Hopefully, a fourth Library will be added soon. While we wait, visit one of the existing locations to take a book, leave a book, or do a little clean-up if someone has been unkind to one of these book-sharing sites. In the meantime, I’ll try to keep my eyes and ears open, and when I learn something interesting, I’ll pass it on.