First Little Free Library box offers collection of books.

Shawnee’s first Little Free Library box, located on the south side of United Presbyterian Church, now offers a small collection of books free for the taking. Borrowers are requested to replace each book with another or bring it back for others to read. The motto on the box reads, “Take a Book. Return a Book.”

Pastor Amy Busse Perkins led a dedication ceremony Sunday, Nov. 10, during the regular worship service. Afterwards, members of the congregation went outside with books to donate to the project and applauded Dustin Casey, who built the library box. Authors in the first batch of books include Charles Dickens, Anne Tyler, John Grisham, and Billy Graham. A number of children’s books were also donated.

The Little Free Library program began in 2009 when Tod Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, put up a small box, shaped as an Amish barn, in his front yard. It was a tribute to his mother, a teacher who loved reading, and featured a sign reading “FREE BOOKS.” His neighbors liked the idea, so he built several more boxes to donate to other locations.

The idea spread, first in Wisconsin and then nationwide. A goal was set to create at last 2,509 boxes, to match the number of libraries supported by Andrew Carnegie in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. That goal was reached in 2012. The Little Free Library at United Presbyterian is chartered as the 9, 884th in the U.S. With the movement spreading to Ghana, India, and Sri Lanka, it is estimated that there are now close to 12,000 boxes worldwide.

Pastor Amy said, “I cannot tell you how excited I am that we are now a part of this amazing project. Not only are we sharing the love of reading and promoting literacy, this is a ministry. We are stewards, not just of the physical library, but of our neighbors; our sisters and our brothers.”