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Community - Sep 23, 2020

Foundry installs Little Free Library

Angie Landsverk | Waupaca Now

Foundry installs Little Free Library

Waupaca Foundry employees (from left) Bart Buhler, Jake Kurtzweil, Julius Windsor and Sam Maggio assembled and installed this Little Free Library. It is across from Plan 1. Angie Landsverk Photo

The number of Little Free Libraries in the Waupaca area continues to grow. 

Among the latest to appear is one on Elm Street, across from Waupaca Foundry's Plant 1. 

"The focus behind it was giving back to the community," said Carment Peskie, Plant 1's human resources manager. 

The foundry bought the kit. 

Plant 1 employee Bart Buhler, Jake Kurtzweil, Sam Maggio and Julius Windsor helped assemble the Little Free Library. 

It is gray and has the foundry's logo on it. 

The Little Free Library was installed in late July. 

A bench made at the foundry's Plant 5 in Indiana was placed next to it. 

Waupaca Foundry donated the Little Free Library and bench after Molly Reinke contacted the corporate office about the idea. 

Reinke is a library assistant at the Waupaca Area Public LIbrary. 

Sharing books with children

Library stall members began stocking area Little Free Libraries with books last spring as a way to get books into the hands of patrons. 

That is because libraries and schools were closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Children had no access to reading materials other than what they had at home, said Sue Abrahamson, the library's youth librarian. 

She said library staff recognized that the stock of paperback books it had to award children for reading could meet the needs of the community's book deserts. 

Ten staff members volunteered to regularly fill designated Little Free Libraries in the community with donated books. 

This included books for adults and teens, fiction and nonfiction and also some puzzles. 

Each Little Free Library was visited several times a month. 

Abrahamson said support from local individuals, the Waupaca LIbrary Foundation and Friends of the LIbary have kept paperbacks flowing into Waupaca neighborhoods. 

Reinke does not live far from Plant 1. 

She put a Little Free Library up in her yard, but said there was little foot traffic. 

Reinke knows a few adults have also stopped to get books out of the Little Free Library. 

The public library reopened for brosing and in-person checkouts in July. 

Placing books in parks 

Staff members continue promoting the Little Free Libraries. 

"I have a plan to include at least three more locations in specific neighborhoods where children may have a hard time getting to the library," Abrahamson said. "We found that the Little Free Libraries in local parks (Swan Park, South Park and Rotary Riverview Park) were particularly busy in the summer. One time, as I was refilling the library in South Park, a family came running and toldm e how happy they were to have something to read during their day at the beach."

She said adding a new Little Free Library built of sturdy composite materials costs about $350 if ordered from the LIttle Free Library organization. 

Abrahamson hopes local builders are interested in constructing the boxes for local use. 

The idea is about sharing books. 

Studies show access to books during the summer prevents a loss in reading skill, especially for children in need. 

According to the Little Free Library's website, children with book access over the summer perform 35-40% better on reading achievement tests than children without books. 

Children from homes with 25 books complete two more years of school than children from homes without any books, the site says. 

Abrahamson is also excited to work with a local laundromat owner to place a box of books inside the laundromat. 

She said families spend at least two hours per week there when they do laundry and sometimes bring their children. 

"What a great time to make wash time, reading to gether time," Abrahamson said. 

She also said a recent Laundry Cares Summit identified the three biggest challenges to a child's success in school are chronic absenteeism, entering kindergarten not prepared and the learning loss from a lack of book access during the summer. 

"And three more months to our summer due to COVID-19, and educators are facing the huge task of playing catch up," Anrahamson said. "If providing books to kids and families in this creative manner helps ease the pressure, our efforts have been worthwhile."

Where to find Little Free LIbraries

There are Little Free LIbraries located throughout the Waupaca area. 

This Little Free Library has books for both adults and children.

The idea is to take a book and share a book. 

This is the current list of where they may be found around here: 

  • Bailey Street
  • Elm Street, across from Waupaca Foundry's Plant 1 
  • Lake Street
  • Waupaca Learning Center
  • Trinity Lutheran Church
  • South Park, in front of the Hutchinson House 
  • Swan Park
  • Waupaca Historical Society on Main Street
  • Rotary Riverview Park
  • Corner of North and Franklin Streets 
  • State Street, near Waupaca Foundry's Plant 1
  • Highland Drive 
  • Bethany Home on Berlin Street
  • West Fulton Street 
  • Virginia Drive, near the Red Mill
  • Stratton Lake Road, between County Trunk K and State Highway 22 
  • Rural Historical Society on Main Street in Rural 
  • Lamplighter Lane in Covered Bridge 
  • Cleghorn Road - there are two on this road 
A Little Free Library is also being install this fall in Riverside Park, on East Royalton Street. 

People are asked to consider these tips when using Little Free Libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic: 
  • Do not use Little Free Libraries while someone in their home is sick. 
  • Wash their hands before and after using a Little Free Library
  • Bring a paper bag and quarantine the items for 24 hours before use. 
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