Donna Edwards of Roland loved to read to her daughter, now a college student, and she knows the importance of reading.
One day not too long ago she was on the internet and saw an ad for something called the Little Free Library.
The Little Free Library website explains how the project began. In the beginning—2009–Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisc., built a model of a one room schoolhouse. It was a tribute to his mother, a teacher who loved to read. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it. He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said free books. The idea spread, and now there are nearly 40,000 Little Free Library book exchanges around the world, including the one in Roland.
Edwards said when she saw that she thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to do that.’
And she did. Danny Mader, a woodworker from Muldrow, built her Little Library box and Ivy Harp of Roland painted the box.
The Little Free Library boxes can be of any design the steward wishes. The purpose is to take a book to read, and leave a book for others. The exchange is free, and the purpose is “To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across the generations.”
Edwards said she used to go to the small Roland library to get books for her daughter and herself.
“Then, one day it was gone,” she said.
Edwards said there is a need for books in the Roland area.
“A lot of people don’t have the time or money to go to Fort Smith and get books,” Edwards said. “A lot of kids don’t have access to a library.”
Edwards said her and her husband’s business, Edwards Auto Parts and Sales, also has a waiting room for those waiting on an oil change.
“I noticed a lot of people brought a book to read,” Edwards said. “So now there are free books in there too.”
Edwards said that as soon as her Little Free Library box went up near her business, and was posted on Facebook, she began receiving donations for the little library.
“I had a lady drop off 10 books just today,” Edwards said. “Another lady brought a whole sack full. Most people are really generous.”
Edwards had been supplying the little library by buying used books at libraries and book stores. Little library users don’t have to bring a book to exchange. They are welcome to read a book and bring it back.
And there are books for every age group, young to old.
Edwards said about the Little Free Library, “It’s cool because it kind of brings the community together. A grandmother came by with her granddaughter one day and took a picture of her by the box.”
Edwards is hoping to expand the Little Free Library in Roland, and plans another either along Roland Road, where it will be accessible to everyone, or near or in Roland Park. She hopes to have the second library box up in one or two months.
Edwards concluded, “I tell people to read, find what you like, read about what you are interested in.”
That’s because Edwards knows that reading expands the mind and is a way to get where you want to go.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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