By Christine Bryant
Debbie Cameron sees immense promise for the Hilltop area, so much so she purchased and renovated a home in the south central portion of the community.
“I chose this neighborhood because I felt there was a great deal of pride in the neighborhood, despite a great deal of deterioration,” she said.
Wanting to help in the area’s recuperation, Cameron decided to do something unique – she opened her own library in her front yard.
Little Free Library is a worldwide phenomenon that encourages people to set up their own little free libraries spread throughout neighborhoods in the community. These locations are a fraction of the size of a traditional library – often ranging in size from a birdhouse to a telephone booth. Some have themes, while others hold a general collection of books that are free to borrow and there are never fines.
Worldwide, there are nearly 40,000 Little Free Library book exchanges, representing all 50 states and more than 70 countries.
“I saw a Little Free Library near my daughter’s neighborhood last year and thought it was a great idea,” Cameron said.
The library, which Cameron built herself outside her property at 492 Hilltonia Ave., is the first in the 43223 zip code.
“It’s been up for about a month,” she said. “I am thrilled by the response. I have had many nice comments of gratitude, donations of books and several customers.”
Cameron’s library holds about 12 to 15 books for adults on the top shelf, and an equal number for children and teens on the bottom shelf.
“It is too hot now, but in the fall I will add DVDs,” she said. “I plan to add candy at Halloween and Christmas, and there are dog biscuits in the side container.”
She also plans to change out the books every month and add titles as the inventory dwindles.
“If I am able to foster a love of reading in one child, I will consider it a success,” Cameron said. “If I can provide summer reading fun for anyone, that is a bonus.”
Cameron’s library is one of three located on the westside. Leeanne Chandler operates one at 165 S. Roys Ave., and Jeannette Young runs one at 4177 Salem Drive.
“We opened it a few weeks ago and we are very excited about it,” Young said. “I am thrilled to say without having properly announced it, we are already getting traffic.”
Young has always loved to read and wanted a better way to share books she has enjoyed.
“Sharing my love of books and wanting to maintain that connection in the community with young and old people alike, the Little Free Library seemed like a no brainer,” she said. “It’s a great way to combine my love of books and our neighborhood.”
Chandler has operated her library, which holds about 40 books, since October, and says it has been doing very well with a lot of activity.
“There are children’s books, books for adults, gardening books – a little something for everyone,” Chandler said.
For more information on nearby locations or on how to start your own Little Free Library, go to littlefreelibrary.org.