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Little Free Library to Open to Public on Sept. 30 in Oxford

Photo courtesy Lafayette County Literacy Council Facebook page

Oxford Park Commission (OPC), in collaboration with the L.O.U. Reads Coalition and its co-conveners, United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County and the Lafayette County Literacy Council, will hold a red ribbon cutting ceremony for their newly installed Little Free Library at Avent Park on Wednesday, Sept. 30,  at 3 p.m.

As part of the ceremony, Jon Sanders of the Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library will host a story-time. An afternoon snack for children will also be served. Before leaving Oxford, a place she’s called home for 8 years, Ole Miss PhD student Julie Ann Brandt wanted to leave something meaningful behind. While in Oxford, she fed her love of literacy as a writing teacher, a tutor, a poetry editor, and a regular attendee at cultural events.

“Oxford is a special place. A Little Free Library seemed like the perfect gift for this lovely literary community,” explained Julie. The Little Free Library movement is active around the country, with people setting up “take one, leave one” lending libraries in front yards, parks, and just about anywhere you can imagine. Julie asked her father, who learned a love of woodworking from his father, to help her by constructing the beautiful handmade wooden box that will protect the books from the elements. Julie hopes, in particular, that the Little Free Library becomes a favorite for families: “It was my mother who taught my brother, sister, and me to love libraries, but Dad taught us to work hard, play hard, and listen to Mom.”

“Oxford Park Commission is thrilled to be the primary steward of our community’s first Little Free Library,” said Jared Barkley of OPC. “People think of us as focused on promoting physical health, and we are, but the Oxford Park Commission knows that raising healthy children takes not just opportunities for exercise, but also for building many other skills – including learning to read, thinking creatively, and sharing with others, all of which are fostered by the Little Free Library. This will be another reason for families to visit Avent

Park and take advantage of everything it offers to the community.”With the L.O.U. Reads Coalition working to ensure that all children are proficient readers by the end of third grade, OPC, the Literacy Council, and United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County thought that making L.O.U.’s first Little Free Library a children’s library would be a great idea. “We know that kids who are read to from an early age are far more likely to become readers themselves,” said Meridith Wulff, executive director of The Lafayette County Literacy Council. “We also know that kids who read are more likely to become kids who succeed — in school, in jobs, and in life. This Little Free Library offers one more easy way for parents and kids to get books, take them home, and enjoy them

together.” To start, the Little Free Library will be stocked with books generously provided by Square Books, the Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library, and local residents who gave to the L.O.U. Reads Book Drive that took place last spring.Because of communities like Oxford and Lafayette County, the Little Free Library movement has grown rapidly. Many libraries have been installed and thousands of books shared around the country and world.

Little Free Library’s mission is to:

● Promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.

● Build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity, and wisdom across generations.

L.O.U Reads, the Oxford Park Commission, the Lafayette County Literacy Council, and United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County are excited to serve as stewards for the new Little Free Library at Avent Park. “We hope that all of the local organizations working hard to promote literacy will encourage their students to take advantage of the Little Free Library. Simply having access to free books can be a game-changer for many young children,” said Alice Ricks, executive director of United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County.

The way the Little Free Library will work is simple:

● The library will initially be stocked with a variety of high quality books intended to

interest children in our community. Thanks again to Square Books, the Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library, and the L.O.U. Reads Book Drive.

● Children and parents can stop by and take whatever books catch their fancy. They will then return and/or donate books to the Little Free Library, whenever possible.

● Little Free Library books are always a gift – never for sale! Oxford Park Commission will install the new Little Free Library next to the Born Learning Trail and playgrounds in Avent Park. The grand opening ceremony with a red ribbon cutting will take place on Wednesday, September 30 at 3:00 PM. All are welcome.

For more information about the Oxford Park Commission, please visit http://www.oxfordparkcommission.com/

For more information about the L.O.U Reads Coalition, please visit http://www.loureads.org/.

For more information about United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County, please visit http://www.unitedwayoxfordms.org/.

For more information about the Lafayette County Literacy Council, please visit http://lafayetteliteracy.org/.

For more information about the Little Free Library movement, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org.

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