Dundee Library to install ‘Little Free Library’ branches

John Christensen Chronicle-Express
Dundee Children’s Librarian Rachel Knapton tries out one of the newly-built LIttle Free Libraries that will be located in outlying areas of the Dundee Library territory.

The Dundee Library is seeking locations for branch distribution boxes in the farther reaches of their community. Children’s Librarian Rachel Knapton applied for and received an $800 Outreach Mini-grant from the Southern Tier Library System to construct and stock “Little Free Libraries” in geographically isolated locations within the Dundee Library’s service area. 

Little Free Libraries is a nationwide movement that promotes the installation of  mailbox-sized libraries throughout the country.  Their mission is:

 • To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.

• To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.

• To build 2,510 libraries – as many as Andrew Carnegie – and keep going.

Knapton believes these goals align with those of all the libraries within Southern Tier Library System, as well as libraries throughout the world. “Our goal is to install one LFL in front of the Dundee Library (for use when the library itself is closed) and to place the other seven throughout our communities in Starkey, Barrington, Altay, Himrod, and Tyrone. The libraries are not book donation centers, they are places to pass along a well-loved book or two in order to spread the joy of reading.”

“As a lifelong resident of the community, I grew up on Waneta Lake and was unable to visit the Dundee Library whenever I felt like it, and I know that children today still face that issue, as well as adults,” Knapton wrote in the application. “Not only are these potential patrons geographically isolated, but the public library can be an intimidating place for adults who are reluctant readers. My hope is that by installing stress-free Little Free Libraries in high trafficked areas in our surrounding communities, we will be able to spread a love of literacy to adults and children who would otherwise be missing out on the benefits of free books.”

The Dundee Library will track of the success of the LLFs by monitoring the number of books  going in and out. Patrons are encouraged to take or leave a book, and books that are placed in them by the library would contain a stamp that would signify that it belonged to the LLF to avoid having the books sold as used books.

This project is self-sustaining, as the upkeep will be done by volunteers. “My hope is that if we find a few Little Libraries to be successful, we’ll be able to apply for larger grants to install even more,” says Knapton. “The real goal here is to get our entire community, children and adults, to realize just how wonderful reading can be. 

If a resident would like to “adopt” a LFL and place it in their front yard, “We ask that you have a front lawn or driveway that is easily accessible to passersby, and a willingness to keep track of the number of books so they can be replenished if the number or variety gets low,” says Knapton, who stresses there is no cost to the host.

Adopters have the option of painting it themselves to suit the surroundings, or of asking library volunteers to paint it for them. The LFLs need not be installed directly into the ground, unless the adopter prefers it that way.  “Currently, we’re planning on using 5-gallon buckets (that will also be painted) filled with stone or cement to keep the libraries in place,” explains Knapton. “Our thanks to Dean Knapton for building the libraries, and thank you to the Southern Tier Library System for providing the grant!”

To adopt a Little Free Library    

Contact: The Dundee Library

(attn: Rachel Knapton)

32 Water St.

Dundee, NY 14837

phone: 607-243-5938

fax: 607-243-7733

e-mail: dundee@stls.org

See examples of Little Free Libraries at