Dearborn Heights Rotary installs Little Free Libraries at elementary schools Libraries were installed before classes ended for the summer so that children would take advantage of the free books to hone their reading skills.

Two young visitors check out the book selections at Bedford Elementary School's recently installed Little Free Library.
Two young visitors check out the book selections at Bedford Elementary School’s recently installed Little Free Library.

Classes may be over for the summer, but learning won’t stop for students at three local elementary schools.

The Rotary Club of Dearborn Heights (Michigan, US — District 6400) held a dedication ceremony earlier in June for its three newest Little Free Libraries at Bedford, Pardee and Polk elementary schools.

Libraries were installed before classes ended for the summer so that children would know about them and take advantage of the free books to keep building their reading skills during the summer break.

The club has installed Little Free Libraries at 10 locations around the city so far, including at both Dearborn Heights Fire Station and at the Ford-Tel Marathon.

“It really is a national Rotary project,” Community Service Chairman Claude Curry said.

“We have fundraisers to do all kinds of projects, and this was one of them.”

Making the community lending libraries possible has been a team effort among the Rotary, which raises money from its members and fundraising activities.

Boy Scout Troop No 1478, whose members helped an Eagle Scout build them as part of his Eagle Scout project; and senior citizens from the Berwyn Senior Center, who decorated the boxes with individual, colorful themes.

“The children at Pardee wanted to do their own, but the ladies at Berwyn have done most of ours,” Curry said.

The Berwyn ladies have decorated eight of the 10 libraries installed by the Rotary around the city so far.

Also helping to make the new libraries a reality were Rotarians David Zielinski, who installed the wooden boxes at each school and Jeff Whitmarsh, who handled building coordination.

“We put about 80 percent children’s books in there,” Curry said, “and about 24 hours after the dedications, one was almost empty. The kids were really excited to get in there and pick out some books.”

The Rotary held dedication ceremonies outside each school with plenty of students and staff taking part.

“This was a real nice event,” Rotary Youth Service Chairwoman Lynne Killion said.

At the last school, Bedford, the whole school was assembled around the Little Free Library. There was a ribbon cutting ceremony and a few words from Claude (Curry) and the school principal. “With that, the ribbon was cut and the students had a great time looking at all the books.”

The Little Free Library is not a traditional walk-in facility filled with books, disks and other reference materials; rather it’s built around a community concept.

Each small, wooden structure holds about 50 books, and people are encouraged to stop by anytime to take a book or leave books to share with others.

The miniature libraries are shaped like a miniature house and set up on a post, making it look somewhat like a sophisticated birdhouse. 

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