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Ross resident offers little yard library to community

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
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Claire Miller encourages reading with a cabinet of books outside her home at 108 Wally Drive in Ross Township. She was inspired to install her own little library after reading an article about the Little Free Library movement in American Profile. Passers-by are able to take or leave a book.

Claire Miller thought the story she found in a magazine in March was worth repeating.

After learning about the Little Free Library program from American Profile, the Ross Township resident asked her husband to build her a miniature library cabinet where she could offer free books to passers-by.

“I thought it was the coolest thing,” she said.

She read that in 2009, Todd Bol and Rick Brooks originated the Little Free Library, or LFL, social enterprise in Wisconsin. Their mission was to create a sense of community, encourage reading for children and literacy among adults, and stock libraries around the world, all by giving people an opportunity to share books.

The idea attracted interest all over the country. People built their own little libraries or purchased cabinets through the LFL website. For a payment of $39.95, the library could be registered on the LFL map.

“There are more than 10,000 libraries around the world,” Brooks said, “and in 49 countries.”

Each day, he said, there are 6,000 to 10,000 hits on the website and 34,000 views on Facebook. About 100 YouTube videos have been made about individual projects.

“But it's not the numbers I'm after; it's the pictures and the stories,” Brooks said.

Miller, a retired registered nurse and the mother of five grown children, started an independent effort to open up a suburban miniature library.

Through the handiwork of her husband, John, and son, Paul, she now has a book cabinet installed on a post next to the bench outside their home at 108 Wally Drive. She did not register it on the LFL website.

“It's a boxy thing with a glass door. Its roof with shingles hangs over, so water can't get in.”

She added a sign: “Take one or leave one.”

In late spring, curious visitors were stopping to take a peek on their way to the nearby ball field.

Miller keeps 25 to 30 books for preschoolers to adults. She would love to increase her offerings for preteen readers.

Her daughter-in-law, Sharon, keeps her in good supply, as do many friends.

“She gives me books all the time,” said Miller, who admits to having shopping bags full of books waiting to be read.

After she finishes with them, she passes them along. To keep the supply fresh, she checks the library about every five days. She hopes readers keep opening the cabinet throughout the winter.

“It's there for anybody to use,” she said, adding that surprised motorists have backed up their cars to take a second look. “We've lived our lives; now, it's time to share again.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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