NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> Borough residents no doubt have noticed the little kiosks that have popped up in recent months on the streets of Newtown Borough.
They are part of the Newtown Rotary Club’s latest project - “Take-A-Book/Share-A-Book” - designed to promote literacy, inspire a love of reading and build community.
The wooden kiosks, built in the shape of little buildings and mounted on posts, are stocked with books for children and adults that are free to take home or to a nearby bench to read. In return, kiosk users are asked to share a book or books for others to enjoy.
Since the kiosks have been installed, projects organizers said people have been taking more books then they’ve been sharing, which has resulted in thinly stocked to empty kiosks.
“We’re asking people not only to take a book to enjoy, but also to leave a book for others,” explained Rotarian Sherrie Donahue who joined club president Paul Salvatore and Newtown Borough Councilwoman Nicole Rodowicz in dedicating the kiosks on April 3.
The Little Libraries - part of the world’s largest book sharing movement - can be found along the sidewalk in front of the Newtown Library Company, behind the Zebra-Striped Whale, at Brain Gregg Memorial Park on North Congress Street and at Linton Memorial Park at Lincoln and Centre Avenues.
The Little Free Library movement began in 2009 when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one-room schoolhouse, filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard in tribute to his mother - a teacher.
Rick Brooks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison saw Bol’s prototype and together they began expanding the project to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges.
The partnership led to the founding of Little Free Library, a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.
Today, millions of books are exchanged each year through more than 80,000 Little Libraries in all 50 states and 90-plus countries, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.
Newtown Rotarians Paul Salvatore and Sherrie Donahue subsequently saw the Little Libraires in the Passyunk section of Philadelphia and in Ocean City, Maryland and thought it would be a great idea for historic Newtown Borough.
It was a perfect fit for Donahue, who in addition to co-owning the Zebra-Striped Whale with her husband, is also an accomplished children’s author.
Donahue donated the money for the Little Libraires in memory of her parents - Rebecca and Leon Faden - “whose love of books was contagious” and who inspired her to write her first book.
“My mom just died at 100. They were avid readers. And they inspired me with my book,” said Donahue. “I thought this was very apropos.”
Salvatore made the rounds earlier in the day stocking the kiosks with dictionaries from the club’s Dictionary project. For the past 13 years, the club has given out free dictionaries to every third grader in the Council Rock School District to encourage and to promote reading and literacy.
Donahue also added a few of her own “Zebra-Striped Whale” children’s books for those lucky enough to find them nestled inside the kiosk.
Rodowicz, who worked with the Rotary in picking out the sites for the Little Libraries at Brian Gregg and at Linton Memorial Park, thanked the Rotarians and Donahue for the additions to town.
“It’s an amazing way to promote reading, literacy and community,” she said.
Rotary International is the world’s first service club organization. Its more than 1.2 million members volunteer their time and talent to further the Rotary motto, “Service Above Self”. The Newtown Rotary Club, founded in 1953, has served the local and international communities for more than 60 years.
The club meets for lunch every Wednesday at The Temperance House in Newtown from 12:15 to 1:30 pm. For additional information visit the web site www.newtownrotary.org or “like” the club on FaceBook.