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Indiana couple builds community library

by EMILY WEBER news@indianagazette.net on August 07, 2013 11:00 AM

Passers-by may be surprised to see what’s inside a small structure that recently popped up in front of a Philadelphia Street home.

With help from a few neighbors, Indiana residents Will and Nancy Seale constructed Indiana’s first Little Free Library at 1421 Philadelphia St.

Anyone is welcome to take a book and leave a book with no strings attached: no library cards, due dates or late fees.

It’s part of the Little Free Library, a book exchange movement that’s been popping up nationwide since 2009.

Nancy said she saw a picture online of a Little Free Library in Buffalo, N.Y., and showed it to her husband.

“I thought it was a neat idea,” she said. “I just didn’t think we’d end up with one on our front yard.”

Nancy and Will decided against purchasing a prefabricated library through the organization’s website, opting to build a cheaper one on their own.

Will designed the enclosed library that is roughly 2ᄑ feet wide by 3ᄑ feet tall and sits on a post, and helped a neighbor build it.

“I got the materials and helped whenever I could,” Will said.

Another neighbor, Courtney Scherf, an art teacher in the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District, painted the character from the children’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” on the window.

The library is stocked with about 25 books, ranging from children’s books to novels Nancy has read through her book club.

The couple hopes people will feel free to donate books or use the take-one-leave-one exchange policy adopted by the movement.

“It’ll be nice for kids walking to school or on their way home,” Nancy said. “It’s something to help circulation. Just because you take a book out doesn’t mean you have to return the same one.”

Nancy and Will said they won’t monitor the books beyond screening for inappropriate material.

“People have asked if it will be big enough for us to sit in, and we’ve said, ‘no, it’s not a tree house in our yard,’” Nancy said. “I don’t want people to feel like they’re being watched.”

The closest Little Free Library is in Clymer, according to the national website, www.littlefreelibrary.org. Registered exchange sites are provided on the site.

PHOTO:  Will and Nancy Seale, along with daughters Julianna, 1, and Aubrey, 3, posed with the Little Free Library the family built outside their home at 1421 Philadelphia St. in Indiana. (JAMIE EMPFIELD/Gazette photo)

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