Two children gathered Tuesday around the newest addition to Greenville’s Southernside Neighborhood, what looks like a little purple house with a Furman logo. The girl reached inside and selected a scary book for her little sister since she loves scary stories. The little boy chose a joke book for himself and found a book to bring home for his mom.
“I know what I’m doing when I get off the bus tomorrow… I’m coming to get more books!” the boy beamed.
Furman University celebrated International Literacy Day with the grand opening of its Little Free Library at YouthBASE on Hampton Avenue in the Southernside Neighborhood. The miniature street-side library is stocked with dozens of books available to neighbors for the taking.
The first Little Free Library (LFL), a model of a one-room schoolhouse, was built in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wis., as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with free books and put it on a post in his front yard.
His friends and neighbors loved it so much that he built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said “free books.” The idea has rapidly caught on.
The Southernside LFL was funded and built by Furman University, in partnership with United Way’s YouthBASE organization, a free afterschool and summer early intervention program that provides individual behavioral and academic support for kindergarten, first- and second grade students.
The project has been a true Furman collaboration, said Assistant Professor of Education Katie Stover, also the library’s steward.
Funding was provided by the Shi Center for Sustainability. University faculty, students, and friends contributed boxes of books for both children and adults to fill the library. Facilities services staffers constructed and installed the library while Stover, Rebekah Clyborne ’16 and Caroline Holley ’17 teamed up to paint it and get it ready for visitors.
“We hope to cultivate a community of reading and foster life-long readers of all ages,” Stover said. “Reading is empowering. It can take us on adventures far away, teach us new information and help us empathize with others, making us better human beings. Promoting literacy is essential to help eradicate poverty, improve health and well-being, and build tolerance.”
The Southernside LFL joins more than 30,000 Little Free Libraries serving readers worldwide.
To learn more about Little Free Libraries, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org To contribute books to Furman’s Little Free Library project, please drop them off in the box located outside the Education Department in Hipp Hall or contact Dr. Stover at email@example.com