• Little Free Libraries in Your Parks

    Six new Little Free Libraries have found homes in Geauga Park District, thanks to a group of women with a passion for literacy, Women United of United Way Services of Geauga County.

    Anyone is now welcome to take a book home from the new weather-proof libraries at Bass Lake Preserve, Swine Creek Reservation, The West Woods, The Maple Highlands Trail’s South Street entrance, Big Creek Park and Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve.

    Women United, a group formed through United Way Services of Geauga County, developed the library initiative last year, and keeps each location stocked with books donated by the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank and community book drives.

    Sponsoring community organizations, which painted and installed the libraries between November and April, were Sport Rack, KraftMaid Cabinetry, Leadership Geauga, Saturday Cheers, Women United of United Way Services of Geauga County, and Fairmount Santrol, respectively.

    Photos from each installation can be viewed in this Facebook photo album.

    Increasing access to books and summer learning – and working with schools, summer programs, employers and other nonprofits – is part of United Way’s strategy to help kids succeed in school, work and life, according to Kimm Leininger, executive director of United Way Services of Geauga County.

    “Upper and middle-income kids are at an advantage because their families can afford academic enrichments and their homes are usually filled with books,” Leininger said, “while low-income families do not have the access to these resources, making it very hard for these students to keep up.”

    “The Little Free Library motto is Take a Book, Leave a Book, but we have found that with 25 percent of households in Geauga County struggling to fulfill their basic needs, so many do not have books to leave,” said Eileen Adkins, chair of Women United. “Therefore, our motto is Take As Many Books As You Like – and Come Back! We monitor the libraries and keep them organized and stocked as one of our literacy projects.”

    Geauga Park District’s first-ever Little Free Libraries were built and erected by Eagle Scout Walter Chiefe of Boy Scout Troop 102 at Frohring Meadows, Observatory Park, Orchard Hills Park and Chickagami Park.

    Leininger said the choice to partner with Geauga Park District was obvious: “They are such an important resource in Geauga County, and we felt that they had the best locations for our community to access the libraries.”

    Geauga Park District Executive Director John Oros said the Park District was pleased to be part of the project.

    “What better place to grab a book and relax than one of your parks?” Oros said. “We appreciate our partners including Geauga Park District in giving back to our communities through the joy of reading. Come enjoy reading in your Geauga parks.”