Late last week, Mantua added a new, free resource to the Village when they held a ribbon cutting and officially opened a brand-new Little Free Library in front of the Village Police Department. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, a Little Free Library is a freestanding lending library, where the motto is “Take a book, Return a book”.
Around the country and around the world, schools, community groups, and organizations work together to build and fill free libraries, sparking creativity and inspiring readers in their communities. There are over 50,000 little libraries worldwide — the newest local library is located in front of the Village Police Department, and is available to readers 24/7.
Chelsea Gregor, Administrative Assistant for the Village and self-proclaimed bookworm at heart, explained, “Since the Village doesn’t have a library, and we are such an accessible one-square-mile community, the library can be used by people of all ages, without the need to drive, or worry about when a book is due.”
This library has books for readers of all ages. Children’s books are conveniently located on the lower shelve to provide easy access for young book-lovers, while the upper shelf features books and audiobooks for teens and adults. One of the best reasons to love the little library is that there are no late fees. Once you’ve finished your book, return and exchange it for something new or keep it. If you’ve got any books you no longer need, share them to inspire other readers in the community.

Ms. Gregor continued, “I think that the library will be popular for parents with little ones as an outing. They’ll be able to select books to read by the fountain on the front lawn,” she envisioned. “Possibly teenagers, too. It’s really kind of a mystery (who will visit),” she speculated, “but regardless, everyone who finds out about it views it as a positive addition for our Village.”

One of the main things that Ms. Gregor expressed was that this library is not specifically ‘owned’ by the Village, but that it belongs to the community. The way that the project came to fruition speaks to the community-minded nature of the project. Redgate Sawmill and Hero’s Rock donated lumber and materials for the project; CHS senior Josh Morris designed and built it, overseen by Crestwood teachers Angie Finn and Eddie Judd.  Village residents and employees donated the reading materials.

“Josh Morris took my Pre-Engineering class when he was in the middle school. Part of my focus for the eighth graders is to find a need in the community, design a plan to fix it, and then turn that plan into a reality,” CMS teacher Eddie Judd explained. “He remembered that mission, and that I had power tools for my Pre-Engineering class. He asked my help in making the Free Library as a part of his senior project at the high school,” Mr. Judd acknowledged. “It is nice to see Josh giving back to the community in this way.”

Josh was intrigued by how the library would help his community. For the past few years, Josh has worked and learned from local house-flipper Chris Vespucci picking up all manner of construction and renovation skills. He was happy to be able to put his newly acquired carpentry ability to good use. In fact, this has helped inspire his after-graduation plans of attending a carpentry trade school to further develop this passion.

“I always look for new and interesting ways to appeal to my students’ interest in giving back to their community,” explained Angie Finn, who teaches Career Based Intervention and English at CHS. “The standards include service learning as a means of teaching students the value of caring for their community as well as themselves,” Ms. Finn continued. “The Little Free Library movement appealed to my students right away and when I contacted Mantua Village, Chelsea indicated that they had already been discussing the possibility of building one or more for the Village. Everything took off from there.”
Ms. Finn continued, “I presented the idea after reading about other communities who have built libraries, and Josh immediately took to the idea. He did the bulk of the work with some help from Kenna Burns and Aaron Zielinski, other seniors in my career development class.”

By all accounts, the project was a resounding success. In fact, Ms. Finn shared that she plans to ask next year’s students to build a Little Free Pantry as well as another Little Free Library for Buchert Park.

“We’re happy and eager to have a sharing library for our residents and all who would like to visit.” Ms. Gregor beamed.

For more information on Little Free Library, stop by for a visit or call (330) 274-8776 Ext. 150.