Haines Fam­ily cre­ates Shoe­mak­ersville Lit­tle Free Li­brary

The Hamburg Area Item - - Local News - By Anne Ostrowski

“Books are a uniquely por­ta­ble magic,” wrote au­thor Stephen King, and a Shoe­mak­ersville fam­ily is spread­ing that magic all over town with the in­stal­la­tion of their new Lit­tle Free Li­brary.

The Haines fam­ily – Steve, Ali­son and their chil­dren, Sadie, 9, and Ste­vie, 6 – re­cently held a rib­bon­cut­ting cer­e­mony to cel­e­brate the open­ing of the Lit­tle Free Li­brary they built in front of their home at 701 Main Street. The twofoot by three- foot li­brary is burst­ing with books that will ap­peal to both chil­dren and adults. The best part is that it’s open twenty- four hours a day.

“A few years ago, a friend told me about the con­cept of a Lit­tle Free Li­brary,” Ali Haines said. “Last sum­mer, my chil­dren and I were play­ing at the Kutz­town Park and came across a Lit­tle Free Li­brary there. I thought it was great that so many kids, there to play on the play­ground, were also go­ing up to the Lit­tle Free Li­brary to take a book. My daugh­ter took one – The Naked Mole- Rat Let­ters – and it has be­come one of her fa­vorites.” In­spired by her daugh­ter’s love of the book, and the way she re­ceived it, Haines re­searched the Lit­tle Free Li­brary web­site and be­gan to for­mu­late her own idea for a book- bor­row­ing box in her neigh­bor­hood.

Re­ly­ing on re­pur­posed ma­te­ri­als and her hus­band, Steve’s, con­struc­tion know- how, Ali used items that have par­tic­u­lar, and sen­ti­men­tal, sig­nif­i­cance to Shoe­mak­ersville and the Ham­burg school dis­trict.

“Be­fore the old Perry Ele­men­tary School was taken down in 2013, they held an auc­tion of the re­main­ing fur­ni­ture and other items,” Ali ex­plained. “The old li­brary book drop box was beau­ti­fully built so we bought it and it sat in our base­ment for a few years.”

When it came time to build their Lit­tle Free Li­brary, Steve, a ma­te­rial han­dler at Read­ing Truck Body, out­fit­ted the drop box with a vin­tage glass van­ity door and built the legs out of an old bed frame. The roof tiles are old Ham­burg school dis­trict li­brary cir­cu­la­tion cards from the past 40 years, which were lam­i­nated and top- coated with clear enamel to make them wa­ter­proof. A piece of slate from St. Luke’s old church roof forms a sup­port­ing piece at the bot­tom of the li­brary.

“This lit­tle li­brary is bring­ing a part of the old Perry Ele­men­tary School back to Shoe­mak­ersville,” said Ali. “The li­brary book drop box started its life re­ceiv­ing books years ago, and we wanted to con­tinue in that spirit by of­fer­ing books to the com­mu­nity.”

Once the li­brary was com­pleted, the Hainses filled it with many of their own books and wel­comed do­na­tions from friends to round out the sup­ply. The an­tic­i­pa­tion to see who the first bor­rower would be was ex­cit­ing.

“Af­ter our rib­bon- cut­ting on Aug. 20, we waited and waited on our porch, but no one came,” said Ali. “Just as we were leav­ing in our car, some­one walked up and took a book from the li­brary. It was so grat­i­fy­ing to have that im­me­di­ate con­nec­tion, to see some­one, who may not have even known what it was, us­ing the li­brary.”

To in­crease aware­ness of the site, Ali cre­ated a Face­book page for the Shoe­mak­ersville Lit­tle Free Li­brary, or LFL, which is reg­is­tered through the non- profit or­ga­ni­za­tion. In­for­ma­tion, di­rec­tions and even GPS co­or­di­nates help users to find LFLs all around the world.

Ac­cord­ing to the web­site, Lit­tle Free Li­brary is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that in­spires a love of read­ing, builds com­mu­nity, and sparks cre­ativ­ity by fos­ter­ing neigh­bor­hood book ex­changes around the world. Its motto – “Take a Book, Re­turn a Book” – fits in well with the Haines fam­ily’s ded­i­ca­tion to com­mu­nity ser­vice. They hold an an­nual lemon­ade stand to raise money for the An­i­mal Res­cue League, vol­un­teer for the Shoe­mak­ersville Chil­dren’s Car­ni­val and can of­ten be seen clean­ing up trash at the Shoe­mak­ersville play­ground.

In ad­di­tion, Ali coaches soft­ball, T- ball and bas­ket­ball, serves as the sec­re­tary of the Perry PTO, where she runs the book fair and Read­ing Is Fun­da­men­tal pro­gram, and in­sti­tuted and led the Crazy Eights Math Club for three years at the school. Steve also coaches T- ball, bas­ket­ball and soccer. “My fam­ily loves to read so this is a nat­u­ral re­sult of our in­ter­ests and our de­sire to give back to our com­mu­nity,” Ali said. “Some­times, Shoe­mak­ersville en­dures neg­a­tiv­ity due to re­ports of van­dal­ism and crime, but that be­lies the true na­ture of this neigh­bor­hood, which is filled with good and kind peo­ple. It is a won­der­ful place to raise our fam­ily.”

Since in­stal­la­tion of their LFL, the Hainses have counted at least fif­teen users. Ten have signed the guest book, which Ali in­cluded so that peo­ple can leave com­ments and get in touch if they have books to do­nate. There is even a lit­tle con­tainer of dog bis­cuits for their furry friends. “The re­sponse from the com­mu­nity has been awe­some,” Ali said. “We are merely the ste­wards of this lit­tle li­brary. Our hope is that the com­mu­nity will take own­er­ship of it and our role will be in merely pro­vid­ing the build­ing.” The sign on the side of the li­brary re­minds neigh­bors, “Keep calm and read a book!”

Feel free to visit the Shoe­mak­ersville Lit­tle Free Li­brary at any time to take or add a book. For more in­for­ma­tion on build­ing your own Lit­tle Free Li­brary, go to www. lit­tle­freel­i­brary. org.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO - ALI­SON HAINES

Ste­vie Haines, 6, and Sadie Haines, 9, co- ste­wards of the new Shoe­mak­ersville Lit­tle Free Li­brary, stand in front of their home at 701 Main Street af­ter a rib­bon­cut­ting cer­e­mony to open the li­brary.

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