When my father passed away last winter, I felt an overwhelming appreciation for the man that raised me. My father was caring with a contagious sense of humor; many of his jokes are still recited by my family today. Overall, my father was a provider to his family and his community. For thirty years, my father served as chairman to his Optimist Club’s Christmas Sharing Program. The program provided meals to families in need during the holiday season. When he passed away, the program was named in his honor, The Denny Mantel Christmas Sharing Program, and continues to support families today. In the wake of my father’s passing, I feel an overwhelming need to give back to my community in a similar fashion. As a teacher librarian, my passion is books. So today I opened a Little Free Library in my neighborhood to promote literacy and the love of reading through a free book exchange for all the residents of my neighborhood.
A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and donate a book to share. It was started in 2009 in Wisconsin by Todd Bol as a memorial to his mother. Currently there are over 15,000 Little Free Libraries registered all over the world. The overall mission of Little Free Libraries is to promote reading for children, literacy for adults, and increase the number of libraries around the world. My husband and I covered all costs to get the Little Free Library up and running, and we will continue to manage and oversee the library’s operations including maintenance of the structure, on-going promotion, and collection development. For readers who live in the Columbus-area, our Little Free Library is located in the southeast corner of the green space in the Lakewood neighborhood in Hilliard (3180 Walkerview Dr). Please consider stopping by to use our Little Free Library. Just like a real library, it has a variety of books for everyone to read and enjoy. There are fiction books and non-fiction books for babies, toddlers, children, teens, and adults. Anyone can donate books to the Little Free Library in exchange for new ones. If you have any books you think others would enjoy, I encourage you to bring one or two to the library and take one or two new ones when you leave. This can be done on a weekly basis, keeping you stocked with new and exciting books to read at all times!
Since my father is the inspiration for my Little Free Library, I dedicate it to him. It’s a fitting way to honor my father’s dedication to community service and his influence on my life. As a teacher librarian, it's my way to promote books and literacy beyond the school to my students, their families, and the community. If this Little Free Library is a success, I plan to open more throughout the city of Hilliard and Columbus; something my father would have endorsed and truly appreciate. As a librarian and book lover, it’s my personal way to contribute to my community and honor a very special man.