By Jeanne E. Fredriksen
Two years ago, Tony and Robyn Hartt and their children Brandon, 14, and Amy, 11, moved from Los Angeles to Chesterfield Village in Wake Forest with the express desire “to live in a smaller, kinder town”. Feeling they made the right choice, the wanted to be a part of the community by investing time in a long-term service project the entire family could do together.
Robyn had certain criteria for the project. “It had to serve the community, be for a good cause, possibly help people or kids in need, and something (my children) could do regularly, a few hours a week,” she said.
The answer was to establish a little free library in their front yard where people can take a book or leave a book. Thousands of little free libraries have sprung up across the nation, and the Hartts loved the idea of people having access to books for free and a place to leave books they’ve finished reading. Once one of these libraries is registered online, people can search by location to find the nearest one whether at home or while traveling.
“We are big believers in children’s literacy, and both of my kids are avid readers,” Robyn said. “It was something the kids could help build and maintain. Collecting books and keeping the library well stocked with books for kids, teens, and adults will be their responsibility.”
After two months of planning and building, their little free library had its grand opening and ribbon cutting on Saturday, September 19, during National Literacy Month. The library stands at the front of the Hartts’ property in a shady area surrounded by trees and facing the street for easy access. Next to the library, they’ve placed a small bench so people can sit, read, and relax.
“Every book out there has been donated by the community,” Robyn continued. “People here are so generous and kind. They leave books in boxes on the porch, and Brandon takes them in. We’ve got everything from adult sci-fi and murder mysteries to lots of great kid’s books.”
Daughter Amy, a student at Rolesville Middle, is in charge of organizing the donated books and putting stickers in them with their library location. Then she stocks the shelves, which can hold up to an estimated 50 to 60 books depending upon the variety and sizes.
When asked what she hopes the little library will do, Amy said, “I’d like to give kids a chance to read especially if they might not have had a book before. I just want all kids to be able to read.”
Brandon, a student at Heritage High, added, “Even if kids have had a chance to read, it’s just more free books to read. It’s always good to give back to the community.”
For more information on free little libraries, visit littlefreelibrary.org