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Waterford unveils three new Little Free Libraries

Waterford — Three new "Little Free Library" boxes have been installed in town.

The small containers in public places invite people to take and, ideally, leave books.

The project was engineered by the Waterford Rotary Club. Boxes have been put in by the Parks & Recreation Department at the Quaker Hill Green, next to the Rotary gazebo near the duck pond and on the trail leading to Waterford Town Beach. Yankee Remodeling donated the libraries free of charge.

Waterford Public Library Director Roz Rubinstein, who is also a Rotarian, explained the impetus for the initiative.

"I think, especially where we've placed them, it's an impulse thing," Rubinstein said. "You're at the beach and oh, 'I need something to read,' or you're at the playground and gazebo. At the beach, maybe you wouldn't want to bring a library book because you wouldn't want to get sand in there."

Rubinstein said the Little Free Libraries work well with the town library's mission.

"As a librarian, as someone who promotes literacy anywhere, anyplace you can get books to people is wonderful, so it really complements what we at the public library do," she said.

Rotary club Co-President Cathy Newlin came up with the idea to put in the three new little libraries.

"I was in East Lyme at the boardwalk, and they have a little library box right there by the end of the boardwalk, and I felt we could use some in Waterford, so I wanted to do it as a Rotary project," Newlin said. "I approached Yankee Remodeling in New London and said, 'If we provided materials, would you build it for us?' And they said, 'We'll just build it for you.'"

The large white wood boxes stand atop wooden poles. The inside of the boxes have one divider, creating two shelves. Two rows of books can fit on each shelf. The outside of the boxes bears a simple message: "TAKE A BOOK LEAVE A BOOK." The little libraries have been stocked with books from Rotary Club members as well as some that were donated to the town library. The hope is that these sites will become self-sustaining.

Horror stories, classics, biographies, recipe books, crime stories, love stories, thrillers, young adult novels, sci-fi, travel and other genres of books sit inside, and that goes for all the free libraries in town, not just the ones the Rotary Club set up days ago.

Three other free libraries, making six total in town, are chartered with Little Free Library, a nonprofit organization that has put up more than 100,000 free libraries in more than 100 countries. These are located in the Oswegatchie School Garden, in the Goshen Fire Department parking lot and in the Crystal Mall, though the mall's library is difficult to find. According to the Little Free Library map, it languishes in a currently vacant and unused part of the shopping center.

The chartered libraries come with dedications on the map. The one near the firehouse was put up "in loving memory of Meredith."

"This Little Library is put up in memory of our daughter, Meredith, who passed away at 4 days old May 8th, 2016," the description reads. "Meredith had a genetic condition that we were unaware of. In lieu of flowers for her funeral God placed it on our heart to collect books, which we label and redistribute to local hospitals, libraries, doctors' offices, schools and daycares. On her first birthday we decided to expand this with little libraries, this being the 5th placed."

Oswegatchie's description touts a school project.

"This Little Free Library is part of our School Garden project and is located in The Garden at Oswegatchie School," the description reads. "We are trying to promote literacy and the importance of healthy food. The Little Free Library is designed with figurines of praying mantis on the roof because they seem to be the mascot in the garden after taking up residence there shortly after we built the garden four years ago."

The Rotary Club believes these libraries add another dimension to a town that club members are already proud of.

"We wanted people to be able to sit and enjoy the beautiful parks that we have," Newlin said. "Our thought process, especially with the one by the gazebo, is that parents utilizing the playground there could read books to their kids and have a picnic lunch. I'm somebody who would like to sit on the beach and read a book. We wanted to incorporate the Quaker Hill Green, too, which isn't used enough."  

s.spinella@theday.com

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