Free Little Library to Help Connect Readers on Campus

by Jolene Perron
The Lance – Editor-in-Chief

An initiative which has reached more than 55 countries has found a home at the University of Windsor.

A Little Free Library is making its way to campus and will be located just outside the OPIRG building on California Ave.

While students may feel like they’re tied down with required reading, Angela Sbrocca, library service representative from the Seminole Public Library, said Mortimer Adler described it best – “in the case of good books the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but how many can get through to you.”

Sbrocca said reading a good book has a more long lasting impact than simply reading notes or articles on the internet.

“This was one of my personal struggles as a university student as well,” said Sbrocca. “We can read as many textbooks as required, but it will never have the same feeling as sitting down to a good novel, with a fascinating plot and interesting characters. The material we read for school can often times become overwhelming, and sometimes we need the escape of a good romance, crime or science fiction novel to make sure we do not become overwhelmed. This is so important, particularly for university students, because it is a form or relaxation and can help them overcome the stress and worry they sometimes feel when studying.”

The first Little Free Library started with Rotarian Todd Bol in 2009, in honor of his mother and a former school teacher whom he claimed loved reading. Since that first installment, more than 16,000 Free Little Libraries have followed around the world.

The concept is take a book, leave a book with the main idea revolving around people being able to share their personal favorites, while picking up another book which they’ve never had the chance to read. Sbrocca said she’s heard of other libraries that have a little notebook where people can leave reviews of the books they’ve read.

If, by chance, a book isn’t replaced when another is taken, Sbrocca said there is someone who tends to the library and will fill it when necessary to keep it going.

When the Windsor Rotary was told about the initiative by Sbrocca, she said they felt the project was an ideal fit to help engage members of the community and promote literacy. They teamed up with the Windsor Public Library to make it happen.

After installing a number throughout Windsor, Sbrocca said the location at OPIRG was intriguing.

“The University campus provides the Little Free Library with a very unique location,” said Sbrocca. “We love that OPIRG is a non-profit group, and works to provide students an opportunity to educate themselves, especially with access to reading materials. The Little Free Library organization also loves to see that libraries are built with recycled materials, and we thought it was excellent and staying true to the origins of Little Free Library, that OPIRG was using a re-purposed magazine dispenser.”

On a personal level, Sbrocca said she loves how the project brings together many different organizations. In Windsor, the Windsor Public Library, Rotary Club of Windsor and the Rotary club of Windsor-Roseland, as well as Life after Fifty, Essex Region Conservation Authority and Douglas Marketing Group all came together to help make the Little Free Libraries happen – and that doesn’t include the places the libraries found homes.

“An energetic, attentive group of like-minded individuals worked on this assignment for months because of the passion they had for its development, which I think just goes to show how community-oriented this project is,” said Sbrocca. “The concept is great, and one that has really been formalized from ideas that have been floating around for a long time … It is also the surprise of not knowing what you will find in the libraries that proves to be an intriguing feature. You are simply relying on the tastes, opinions and preferences of others, which is a unique way to connect all of the readers together.”

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