Chris “C.J.” Flynn is a man of his word.
The Hiawatha man spent the past year working on a plan to promote reading and literacy in the Hiawatha community. His hard work and determination is paying off.
A Little Free Library (LFL) is a wooden box that is filled with books. Members of the community can stop by and pick up a book to read. All that is asked is that they bring it back when they are done and perhaps place one in the box they would like to share.
Flynn said he first got the idea a few years ago when he was in Iowa City.
“I did some research and the more I learned about the LFL movement, the more passionate I became about wanting them here (in Hiawatha),” said Flynn.
Flynn said he sought the support of the Hiawatha Library Board and the Friends of the Hiawatha Library. The idea was then submitted to the Hiawatha City Council and was approved to build fourLFLs.
Creating them was solved through the generosity of the Makers at Makerspace, as well as a Hiawatha art teacher, who agreed to have a group of her 5th graders paint one, said Flynn.
“The director at the Artisans Sanctuary in Czech Village offered to have three of their local artists, Jennifer Ocken, Mary Swanson, and Carissa Starleaf, decorate the others and the whole project became a beneficial collaboration.”
The LFLs were installed April 22. Two were placed in Gutheridge Park; one near the 7th Ave. parking lot and the other near the 10th Ave. parking lot. The third one was installed at Tucker Park near the parking lot by the splash pad.
Flynn said the fourth’s location has yet to be installed, and will be announced at a later date.
“I’ve been really excited about bringing LFLs to Hiawatha and I hope Hiawatha residents will enjoy them,” he said. “Patrons at the Hiawatha Public Library have been asking when they will be available, so I think there are book lovers out there that are awaiting their arrival.”
Flynn said the Friends of the Hiawatha Library will initially supply the books and check the libraries periodically, but we hope the LFLs will eventually become self-sustaining and people will honor the “Take a book, leave a book” philosophy.
“Our LFLs will be registered with the national organization and will be added to a database and be accessible on their website,” said Flynn. “Hiawatha just might get a few more tourists looking for an LFL destination location.”
Flynn said up to 50 books can be stored in the LFL, depending on the size of the library.
The idea was first conceptualized by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisc., who built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former schoolteacher, who loved reading.
According to http://www.littlefreelibrary.org, Bol filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it. He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said “Free Books.”
Cedar Rapids and Marion already have LFLs in several locations, including NewBo Market and Lowe Park.
“I hope these LFLs enrich the lives of Hiawatha residents and visitors for years to come,” said Flynn
For more information about LFLs, go to ww.littlefreelibrary.org.