Free Little Library comes to westside

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By Andrea Cordle
Westside Editor

In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 12-18), HandsOn Central Ohio has teamed up with the volunteer organization, Besa to install six Little Free Libraries in Columbus neighborhoods.

“This project promotes family literacy with at-risk kids,” said Stephanie Hughes, manager of corporate and community volunteers with HandsOn Central Ohio.

The westside of Columbus will get three libraries, one on the Hilltop at the J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center and two in Franklinton, in the Franklinton Gardens.

The goal of the Little Free Library project is to expand youth reading opportunities and open doors to expanded literacy in local communities.

According to Hughes, volunteers will set up recycled newspaper dispensers, which would be filled with about 20 to 30 books for school-age children. She said the idea is to take a book, then give a book.

“Sometimes kids don’t have a book at home,” said Hughes. “Now, they can have a book and share a book.”

Hughes said the children could either keep the book or return it after reading, as they would from a traditional library.

The project places the book dispensers at easily accessible non-profit locations, that are not too close to the public libraries. Community members can contribute and add books to the little library as well.

Hughes said volunteers will install the libraries throughout the week of April 12. Once installed, the book dispenser would be permanent.

Michael Cole, CEO of the J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center, said he is very excited to have a little library at the center. He said the center offers after-school programs to focus on literacy.

“This is a real important initiative for us,” said Cole. “Literacy is a necessity for learning and we are glad to be part of this movement.”

Cole said the youth center plans to host book drives and collect books throughout the year to add to the Little Free Library.

“This is another great opportunity to share resources,” said Cole.

On April 17, the Hilltop Little Free Library will be placed inside the J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center, located at 85 Clarendon Ave. in Columbus. The center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Cole said their doors are open to all youth and their families.

The center is also open at various times on Sundays, for athletics and a faith program. Anytime the center is open, a child can stop in and pick up a book.

The two dispensers in the Franklinton Gardens will be placed outdoors. Other little libraries will be placed on the near east side, the south side and in the Linden area.

HandsOn Central Ohio connects people or organizations with civic engagement opportunities and helps those in need connect with resources.

For more information on the organization, visit handsoncentralohio.org.

Besa aims to expand community service in the Columbus area. Its website offers a list of events where volunteers are needed. To learn more, visit givebesa.org.

For more information on the Little Free Library project, contact Stephanie Hughes at 221-6766 or shughes@handsoncentralohio.org.

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