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Little Free Libraries added to residence halls
Friday, August 22, 2014

Fredonia students living on campus will have a new place to pick up a book this fall, and they won’t have to venture outside of their own residence hall to satisfy that craving for a “good read” for the weekend.

The Office of Residence Life is having Little Free Libraries -- hand-crafted structures filled with several dozen books – placed in the lobbies in Gregory, Hemingway, McGinnies and Alumni halls.

Residence Life ordered the Red Sky Amish version of the library structures, which are made of wood and resemble a large birdhouse – with a glass door in the front so the collection can be easily viewed -- from Little Free Library, a non-profit organization that has registered more than 15,000 official Little Free Libraries in the last five years. They’re usually placed in front yards, parks, gardens and easily accessible public areas, and can also be found in coffee shops, restaurants and community centers.

“Students are welcome to share their favorite stories, and hopefully they might find a new favorite in the library,” said Alicia Wroblewski, a Residence Life secretary who read about the informal book exchanges on a library blog. Creating a new – and very convenient – option for recreational reading will promote literary awareness and community living on campus, she noted.

President Virginia Horvath, already a Little Free Library fan, has requested that one be placed in the front yard of the President’s House on Central Avenue.

The philanthropic gesture of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie that created more than 2,500 free public libraries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries inspired the Wisconsin movement to create what became Free Little Libraries. With its “take a book; share a book” cornerstone, Little Free Libraries promotes literacy, a love of reading and a sense of community.

Wroblewski, who learned of a Little Free Library located near an elementary school in Buffalo, is not aware of Little Free Libraries on college campuses. Funding to purchase the five Fredonia library structures – the only expense to be incurred to join the Little Free Libraries movement – has been appropriated from Residence Life.

Residence Life is working with Reed Library staff to determine the types of books to be initially offered and to also solicit donations of books so each library can be fully stocked.

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State University of New York at Fredonia