Mini libraries might be an idea with merit, but one suggested by a local organization shouldn't be located in Lake County forest preserves, a forest district board committee has determined.
The Rotary Club of Long Grove, Kildeer and Hawthorn Woods wanted to sponsor Little Free Libraries, small mailbox-size stations filled with free books for residents to borrow and contribute, and was looking for potential locations.
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One suggestion was near the benches and playground at the Heron Creek Forest Preserve in Long Grove.
"We were just looking for places where people gather," said Jim Dopler, the club secretary. He said the club was looking for projects that could benefit all three communities. He read about the Little Free Library program in a national club publication that noted other clubs across the U.S. have sponsored the mini libraries locally and internationally.
In a letter to the Lake County Forest Preserve District, Dopler said Heron Creek "might be a great location" for the first one in the area, and that the local club would maintain it.
But the consensus of the planning and restoration committee was the idea wouldn't work.
"We do have a lot of people who want to use our land for a lot of things," forest board President Ann Maine said. The district is cautious about a "slippery slope" when considering various requests, she said.
"The committee decided while they love the Little Free Library, they didn't think the forest preserve was the place for it," Maine said.
Dopler noted there is a similar program in the forest preserves.
The Trail Tales educational pilot program, to be instituted next week at the Greenbelt Forest Preserve in North Chicago and Ryerson Conservation Area near Lincolnshire, involves transforming a nature-related book into story panels, with a Little Free Library at the end of the each trail. Each panel has a related activity on how to interact with the setting nearby.
Mike Tully, director of operations and public safety for the forest district, said the Rotary request was different.
"This would be one that has nothing to do with any of our programs. It has no connection with the forest preserve at all," Tully said.
"It's a laudable project, but it was pretty much the consensus of the committee that it wasn't a good fit," he added.
Dopler said the Rotary Club will continue to investigate options but hasn't yet approached any of the three communities.