PARKERSBURG - A small unassuming pink house in front of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on Charles Street is the beginning of a new movement in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
"This Little Free Library was donated to the community, which is a wonderful thing," said the Rev. Marjorie S. Bevans of Good Shepherd. "Reading is one of the most important things to learn and we want to make sure kids - and anyone else - has access to a book."
The pink house-shaped box was built and donated by Jo and Bob Means, the parents of Parkersburg City Councilwoman Kim Coram, and is registered with the worldwide Little Free Library organization (littlefreelibrary.org). It has been placed on a pole in front of the church at 903 Charles St.
The Rev. Marjorie S. Bevans, of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church at 903 Charles St., introduces the Little Free Library, donated to the community around the church on Sunday evening during a dedication of the first project in the Neighborhood Vision program. (Photo by Jolene Craig)
"This Little Free Library offers books of all kinds for all ages," Bevans said.
The Little Free Library concept allows for people to share books with others by allowing people to not only take books from the box, but also leave them.
The idea for the libraries, which allow borrowers to return, keep and trade any book, began in Wisconsin in 2009 when a man named Todd Bol wanted to honor his deceased mother and filled a model schoolhouse in his yard with a sign that read, "Free Books," according to the organization's website.
The site refers to the libraries as a "take a book, return a book" gathering place, which is what the local program's organizers hope happens here.
"We saw this as a way to not only get kids excited about reading, but also get the community out and talking to each other," said Coram, who represents District 4, of which the church is in, on city council.
For the church, the Little Free Library is an extension of its Summer Reading Camp. The weeklong camps were held for 15 students who rose to second-, third- and fourth-grades struggling with reading skills.
These particular children are at high risk for falling farther and farther behind in their education and Bevans said she hopes to see those children at the Little Free Library often.
"It is our belief that children who are read to and read on their own do better in life," she said. "By having the books here for them and their parents makes a world of difference."
Mayor Bob Newell said he was pleased to see the first project of the area's Neighborhood Vision program come to fruition.
"I can't say enough about this library," he said. "The church has always been on the cutting edge of things and this is no exception."
Neighborhood Vision is a program between the church, city, Neighborhood Watch and the Parkersburg Police Department working to improve the neighborhood, Coram said.
"This is the first step in the many changes we plan to make here for the residents," Coram added.