The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

December 1, 2013

Carl Junction's Little Free Library sees brisk use

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — Before she even opened its glass-fronted door, Vicki Mays thought she saw an empty space inside the city’s new Little Free Library.

“That’s OK,” she said, returning to her car. “I carry boxes of books and CDs just in case.”

Mays serves as Carl Junction’s unofficial librarian — a steward, she calls herself — of what has become a growing trend around the world.

The Little Free Library movement began in 2010 with Todd Bol, a hobby carpenter who mounted a wooden box designed to look like a one-room schoolhouse on a post in front of his Hudson, Wis., home.

“I built it as a library to honor my mom, who had a wonderful, great spirit,” Bol said in an interview earlier this fall. “I felt it would be great for the neighborhood. People were just delighted by it as they walked by.”

It quickly took off with a life of its own that Bol never imagined. Today there are about 10,000 Little Free Libraries across the U.S. and around the world, including Holland, Italy and Ghana.

The Little Free Libraries are basically boxes that are placed in front of private homes, in front of businesses or in public places. The basic idea is for passers-by to take a book and leave a book.

In this area, there is one at Community of Christ Church, 1212 Goetz Blvd. in Joplin, under the stewardship of Terry McDermid, and one at 3402 S. Finley Ave. in Joplin, under the stewardship of Daria Claiborne.

There’s one in front of a private residence at 1506 Chouteau Ave. in Baxter Springs, Kan., and one in front of Carthage Middle School under the direction of the student-run Carthage Service Club.

As the most recently installed, the one in Carl Junction is outside the Community Center at 303 N. Main St. Mays won it in a reader contest sponsored by the Globe; Bol provided it free of charge.

Like Bol, Mays dedicated the library to the memory of her mother, Joplin native Kay Buckingham White, an avid reader who instilled the love of books in Mays. She died on Christmas five years ago while reading a book; she was 88.

“She would have loved this, loved the idea of it,” Mays said.

Little Free Libraries are easily located on a worldwide map operated by Bol’s foundation through Google. Flags on sites with libraries provide exact addresses, while photographs of the libraries hint at the personalities of the owners or creators. Carl Junction’s should be added to the map in coming weeks.

Mays said she can’t tell what the most popular item is in the Little Free Library, be it children’s books, audiobooks, mysteries, romances or nonfiction.

“Everything I put in there goes,” she said as she added more titles.

“The CDs are really going — and that’s good! Listen to the music, people,” Mays said with a laugh. She is a retired music teacher and the director of the Heartland Concert Band.

Mays said word of her new responsibility as head of the little library has gotten out, and people now seek her out to donate books they no longer need or want.

“Look at this: We have Roy Rogers and Dale Evans ‘Happy Trails,’ we have Danielle Steel, we have cookbooks,” she said as she arranged the library’s contents in an effort to squeeze in more. “And there are titles in there I know I didn’t put in, so people are giving as well as taking.”

Mays said it took users a little time to adjust to the notion that they may take something and not leave anything — not even a library card.

“A lot of people asked, ‘Where do I sign?’” she said. “You don’t! That’s the good thing!”

Carl Junction resident Cheryl Hume said she appreciates both the proximity of the library and being able to read a book and not feel pressured to get it done and returned in two weeks.

“I love it! I just love the idea of it, and there has really been a variety of stuff that’s gone in there,” Hume said. “And it’s nice not to have the pressure of having to read a book and return it in two weeks.

“I think it’s getting good use. Every time you go, there’s something new. I’ve been surprised at how much use it’s gotten, and it’s only been a few weeks.”

Next library

CARL JUNCTION likely will get another Little Free Library in coming months. The Carl Junction Leo Club is working on getting one installed near Randy’s Drive-In.

Text Only
Top Stories
  • r041614giregabby.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Teen with cystic fibrosis finds widespread support

    When the Nevada Show Choir performs its spring show on stage, it’s impossible to pick out the student with cystic fibrosis because there are no outward clues.
    Gabby Gire, 18, is just another performer. She sings, she dances, she smiles for the audience.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • 041914 Wedding1_72.jpg VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends

    A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Enrollment open for Joplin summer school

    Enrollment is now open for the Joplin school district’s summer school session, which will run Wednesday, June 4, though Tuesday, July 1.

    April 19, 2014

  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

  • Kansas Regents stick with social media policy

    After directing a committee to study a controversial social media policy and make recommended changes, the Kansas Board of Regents appears to not be changing the policy at all. It’s left some in academia baffled by why it appointed the work group in the first place.

    April 18, 2014

  • Britain Easter Pilgri_Cast.jpg SLIDESHOW: Good Friday observances around the world Around the world, Christians are coming together in observance of Good Friday, which they believe was the day Jesus was crucified. Here are some photos from Good Friday commemorations around the world.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missouri House votes to expand sales tax exemptions

    Pizza parlors, doughnut shops and even convenience stores all could be in line for a tax break on the food that they make and sell as a result of a measure moving through the Missouri Legislature.

    April 18, 2014

  • 041714 School safe rooms4_72.jpg Joplin school district readies community safe rooms for storm season

    Thousands of Joplin residents will soon be able to stay safe during storms in some of the region’s newest shelters. Community safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools, which double as gymnasiums, and Junge Field, which will double as a field house, are expected to be open within the next few weeks, according to Mike Johnson, the school district’s director of construction.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos