Little Free Library installed in Harlem Twp.
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
Imagine living in Harlem Township and wanting to read a book yourself, or one of your children wants to read a book, but you’ve already read everything in the house. A trip to distant Community Library in Sunbury is not possible in the time frame you have, or it’s late and Community Library is already closed for the day.
That’s no longer a problem for Harlem Township residents, thanks to a little effort and investment on Karen Dodson’s part. Dodson purchased and installed a Little Free Library near the Harlem Township Maintenance Building, next to the Harlem Bulletin Board and the Harlem Park swings.
Little Free Library is an international organization with a mission to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide. The Little Free Library goal is to build more than 2,510 Little Free Libraries around the world, more than philanthropist Andrew Carnegie did.
“I first read about Little Free Library a couple of years ago,” Dodson said. “I bought the box for $300, $25 shipping, and $25 to register it as Harlem Township Little Free Library Charter Number 2068.”
Of course, Dodson didn’t just install the Little Free Library on township property without permission. She approached the Harlem Township Trustees who, she said, approved the idea very quickly.
Dodson said the Little Free Library concept is simple — take a book and leave a book. That way the library always has a selection of family-friendly books from adult reading matter to children’s books.
“I’m the library steward,” Dodson said. “I will be checking on it to make sure the reading material is appropriate and it’s being taken care of. But the Little Free Library really belongs to everyone in the Harlem Township community; every member of this community will be caretakers of our library.”
Dodson said she recommends that folks leaving books at the Harlem Township Little Free Library leave notes inside the books.
“If you see something you like, take it and read it and also see who else has read it and what they thought about it,” Dodson said. “I like books; you can take them anywhere, they can take you anywhere. When you leave a note you can tell someone else where a book took you.”
Dodson also noted that the Little Free Library was initially stocked with books found in the township dumpster by Vicki Tieche, and children’s books donated by Half-Price Books in Westerville.
Little Free Libraries are rare in Ohio. The Harlem Township Little Free Library is one of eight in the state. Central Ohio seems to be a Little Free Library hot spot, with other libraries in Columbus, Powell and Westerville.
Dodson said there would be occasional maintenance and restocking costs. To contribute to the Harlem Township Little Free Library send donations to Karen Dodson, 12600 Gorsuch Road, Galena, 43021.
For additional Little Free Library fundraising Harlem Township Heritage, Inc. is offering two books of short, fantasy stories written by Canadian school children between the ages of 10 and 16. These books, Hatchings and Fledglings are offered for $3 each or the set for $5. For additional information, or to order, call Dodson at 740–965-4800.
As an added note, the Harlem Township Little Free Library is not the first library in Harlem Township. Dodson said before the turn of the 20th century there was a Center Village Library.
For additional information about the international Little Free Library concept go to < littlefreelibrary.org >.