The Shafter Press - Serving the community since 1922

By Dolly Hei 

Shafter's Little Free Libraries

Volunteers make reading accessible at 20 boxes


April 18, 2019 | View PDF

Members of the community who are involved in the Free Little Libraries met.

A meeting was held to bring together members of the community who are involved in maintaining about 20 Little Free Libraries in the city, with two more boxes in La Colonia and one at Smith Corner.

The purpose was to let the more than 20 stewards of this work meet one another and be encouraged to continue and broaden the project, with the common interest of providing free reading material to children and adults.

The March 25 meeting hosted by Jill O'Brien, Katie Wiebe and Melissa Bergen was an energetic gathering on a beautiful spring morning at the Green Hotel.

The Little Free Library program started here after it appeared in Bakersfield to honor the memory of Wendy Wayne, and was based on a nationwide movement that was launched in 2011. The late Ione Lollar provided the first receptacle in Shafter at her home on Mannel Avenue about 2014. The attractive little library box, used steadily by students and others who pass her home, was made by Eagle Scout Wilson Jones, and was painted by Angie Nelson, now director of the Shafter Youth Center. Ione's legacy as a pioneer of the movement was honored at the recent meeting.

Melissa Bergen, a member of the Shafter Friends of the Library, told her woodworker grandfather about the project, and he immediately volunteered to build one for her to put up, and since then Walt Bergen has made 16 of these unique little boxes for installation around town. They hold free books, donated and purchased, for both children and adults, circulating hundreds of books in recent years.

Internationally, the number of registered Little Free Libraries stands at about 80,000.

Although vandalism has taken its toll on a few of the boxes, dedicated people repair and restock them and the work continues, inspiring borrowers the love of reading and all the benefits it brings.

-Dolly Hei is a volunteer with the Little Free Library project.


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