ANDERSON — When the discussion at the Anderson Rotary Club’s weekly meetings turned to the group’s annual service project, members quickly began to focus on something centered on literacy.
“(United Way Born Learning Coordinator) Lynn Silvey had for a long time a list of ideas that we would love to do if we ever had the money and the manpower,” said Nancy Vaughan, president of the United Way of Madison County. “One of them was the Little Free Libraries. We always thought it would be nice to do them and have them in strategic locations (around the city).”
Vaughan was asked to chair a committee that would use approximately $4,700 in local funds – along with matching funds from the Central Indiana District of Rotary Clubs – to create Free Library boxes to be placed at six locations. The Herald Bulletin donated old newspaper vending machine boxes, which were redesigned and painted by Rebeka Joyce, a student at Anderson University.
The Rotary Club also bought hundreds of children’s and adult books to fill the six boxes, which committee members said were carefully chosen.
“We wanted to pick communities where kids didn’t have a lot of access to make it to the library,” said Thonja Nicholson, facilities manager at the Flagship Enterprise Center, Rotary secretary and a member of the committee. “We chose specific parks and locations where we thought the most need would be, where we knew there were kids around in the neighborhood.”
The six sites are registered with the national Little Free Library organization. Vaughan said Rotary members plan to check the locations weekly to make sure the boxes remain well-stocked. She added that there are currently no plans for additional boxes. The remainder of the funds, she said, would be used to purchase additional books.
Books that are placed in the boxes include a Rotary bookmark with a QR code that scans to the Rotary’s YouTube channel, where members can be found reading additional children’s books aloud. But committee members said they were also mindful that some families may not have access to the technology, which they acknowledge is another benefit of the boxes.
“One thing that we were cognizant of is not every child has access to some of the technology advantages that are becoming prevalent in our society,” said Clayton Whitson, president and CEO of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, who also served on the committee. “We want to make sure every child has a chance to read.”