News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

New Sisters libraries open doors

Two of the five new Little Free Libraries were dedicated last week, including the one shown here with Mayor Michael Preedin, who was present for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Erika Turnquist, age 2, and her brother Damien, 9, were the first borrowers at the one installed at the entry to Clemens Park at North Larch Street and East Black Butte Avenue.

The Little Free Library at McKenzie Meadows Village park was also dedicated. Next week will see the installation at ClearPine sub-division, while the next will be erected shortly thereafter between the Sisters Chamber of Commerce building and Fir Street Park, as soon as the City marks the exact location.

A fifth has been constructed and is set for a location to be determined. All five are a gift of Rotary Club of Sisters, who have a long history of citywide improvements such as the fire hearth at Village Green Park.

Considering the larger number of children residing in McKenzie Meadows Village, there are actually two of the small libraries, side-by-side — one for adults and one for children and youth. Care was given in the design of all units citywide so that kids as young as 5 could reach the shelves.

This brings to eight the number of Little Free Libraries in the city limits. Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Their mission is to be a catalyst for building community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Libraries.

Between the over 125,000 libraries worldwide, 42 million books are shared annually in more than 100 countries. On average, one book is shared in a Little Free Library every day.

Rotary reached out to the community to stock the first five units and the response was amazing, according to Rotary President Lei Darcey.

“We got over 500 books in our first appeal and a third were children’s books,” she said.

“We needed still more books for children and young adults, so we purchased $1,000 worth of books to supplement the stock,” Darcey added.

Paulina Springs Books selected the range of books for readers ages 2 to 17 and provided a generous discount to enable the project’s success; 118 new books were added to the shelves.

We are facing a growing literacy crisis. Today in the United States, more than 30 million adults cannot read or write above a third-grade level. Studies have repeatedly shown that books in the hands of children have a meaningful impact on improving literacy. The more books in or near the home, the more likely a child will learn and love to read. But two out of three children living in poverty have no books to call their own.

“Little Free Library book-sharing boxes play an essential role by providing 24/7 access to books and encouraging a love of reading,” Darcey said.

Rotary Club of Sisters has a storied history in literacy. Each year its Book for Kids project provides up to three books to every first-grader at Sisters Elementary School.

There are many designs for the book sheds. Rotary members designed and built the weather-resistant boxes to a look matching the city style. The clear, plexiglass door reveal a two-shelf structure, one for kids’ books and the top shelf for adult titles.

Rotary Club counts among its members Sisters Schools Superintendent Curt Scholl and Sisters librarian Zoe Shoemacher who bring valuable perspective to the Club’s literacy efforts.

If you think your neighborhood could benefit by a Little Free Library, contact Rotary at 541-904-5132. Each Library requires a committed steward to make certain the boxes are adequately stocked and in good repair. Rotary will provide maintenance and support in perpetuity.


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