Greenville will soon see several ‘little libraries’

By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 11:23 am on Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Little libraries, such as the one pictured here, will soon be popping up at public areas around Greenville, thanks to the efforts of a group of local volunteers. — Courtesy photo

GREENVILLE — If things go as planned, Greenville could soon be home to a half-dozen brand new libraries.

If that seems like literary overkill, it’s only because you haven’t seen the size of each planned library; about 2-by-2 feet.

The “little libraries,” each of which will be mounted to a mailbox-like stand and placed at public areas around town, are a privately-funded effort on the part of a group of citizens led by Norice Thorlund.

Thorlund’s loosely organized group of volunteers has already placed little libraries at Baldwin Heights Elementary School, as well as a few other area schools. Thorlund and two other volunteers — Ruthanne Edwards and Sarah Shoemaker — were at the Greenville City Council meeting Tuesday evening seeking permission to erect several more of the little libraries at public locations.

“We want to have these little libraries where people have the ability to sit there for a few minutes,” Thorlund said. “We want them to have access to reading material while they are there.”

Some of the locations Thorlund has in mind include Veterans Park, Baldwin Lake Beach, Tower Riverside Park, Danish Kingdom and Jackson’s Landing.

Thorlund noted the project would require absolutely no funding or maintenance from the city; everything would be handled strictly by volunteers. Books to stock the library would come from private donations. Hundreds of books have already been donated to the project and more are coming in all the time.

The little libraries, constructed by volunteers, also are stocked and maintained by volunteers. Similar projects have taken hold in cities around the world, including Detroit, where they are placed along that city’s Riverwalk.

Edwards, a guest teacher for Greenville Public Schools, said she hoped the little libraries would become a family activity for area residents. Each library would be stocked with books aimed at ages pre-K to adult.

Shoemaker noted the little libraries have been a big hit at the elementary school locations.

“Not all of our kids have access to books at home,” Shoemaker said. “Our philosophy is quite simple, like the penny tray at the gas station; it’s the same thing only with books.”

Councilman Brian Greene, who describes himself as an “avid reader,” said he felt the project was a “fantastic idea.” Greene went so far as to offer assistance from area Habitat for Humanity resources and volunteers.

Mayor John Hoppough also expressed enthusiasm for the project.

“That’s the kind of stuff that makes Greenville what it is,” Hoppough said. “It’s people who come up with better ways of making Greenville a place where people want to be.”

The council unanimously approved the project. According to Thorlund, it could take anywhere from a few months to a couple years to get all the planned little libraries installed, depending on the number of willing volunteers and available time and resources.

In other business, the council approved a 50 percent, 12-year tax abatement on new equipment valued at $604,128 for Huntington Foam, a business located in the city’s Industrial Park. According to City Manager George Bosanic, the business plans to add eight new jobs to its current work force.

The council also approved the closure of Cass Street from Lafayette Street east to the alleyway’s mid-block from 2 to 6 p.m. Oct. 31 for the annual WGLM Halloween Bash. The event will coincide with the downtown merchants’ trick-or-treating.

Finally, the council went into executive session to discuss pending litigation.

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