Books find new homes in Free Little Libraries

  • Jeff Wadler at the Little Free Library in Spring Lake Park, Lincolnshire. He and his family set up the free-standing mini library as part of a project in memory of his wife, "Grandma Karen" Wadler.

    Jeff Wadler at the Little Free Library in Spring Lake Park, Lincolnshire. He and his family set up the free-standing mini library as part of a project in memory of his wife, "Grandma Karen" Wadler. Courtesy of Vernon Area Public Library

 
 
Updated 7/1/2021 11:05 AM

When books are done being library books, sometimes they become Little Free Library books.

Books are taken out of Vernon Area Public Library's collection when they are no longer being checked out or when they're replaced with new editions. Some of these withdrawn books get a second life as part of Little Free Libraries, the neighborhood boxes that invite readers to take a book of their choice.

 

Over the years, Vernon Area has contributed withdrawn books to supply Little Free Libraries in local neighborhoods.

And as new ones pop up, Vernon is helping stock them, getting more books into the hands of readers, especially children.

When the Buffalo Grove Police Department decided to set up a Little Free Library outside the station, Officer Matt Mills contacted Janice Kellman, Vernon Area Library's head of community engagement and programming, about the project.

"I will gladly take any books (Vernon Area) would like to donate." Mills wrote. "I would like to include a few adult titles, but ... it will be mostly children's books. If you have any (other) languages you'd like to donate, that would be a great addition as well."

Officer Ross Valstyn partnered with Mills on the project. The new Little Free Library was unveiled during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, June 10.

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But Buffalo Grove isn't stopping at a Little Free Library. The police department is also installing a patio outfitted with a picnic table and bench, welcoming visitors and readers. The project is expected to be completed in late summer. Vernon Area Library will supply books for the community site.

Earlier in June, Kellman delivered books to three Little Free Libraries around Lincolnshire -- at Spring Lake Park, 49 Oxford Drive; Memorial Park, 47 Half Day Road; and Trailhead Park, 101 Riverside Road. These free-standing mini libraries are part of Grandma Karen's Book Share, established in memory of Karen Wadler, who was an educator and librarian in North Shore communities for 40 years.

After Wadler retired, she volunteered at Vernon Area Public Library, where she assisted students in the twice-weekly English as a Second Language classes. Now, "Grandma Karen's" passion for reading is being remembered and celebrated by her family.

"She loved children, she loved reading and she loved books, and we brought all of those together with the concept of these little libraries," said Jeff Wadler, Karen's husband.

The Wadlers have dedicated 25 Little Free Libraries around the Chicago suburbs so far this year, and hope to have 75 in place by the end of next summer. A dedicated volunteer at Vernon Area Library is periodically checking and replenishing the three Lincolnshire locations of Grandma Karen's Book Share.

The next time you spot a Little Free Library, stop and take a look inside. You might find your next good book.

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