Sunday, February 5, 2023

Two New Little Free Libraries to Be Unveiled in Stone Center Park, Price Hill Park

Oxford Park Commission joins the Round Table Book Club and the Woman’s Book Club to start June off in Oxford with unveiling two Little Free Libraries at the Stone Center Park and Price Hill Park on Wednesday, June 1.

The unveiling of the Little Free Library at Stone Center Park is at 10:00 a.m. and the unveiling of the Little Free Library at Price Hill Park is at 10:30 a.m. At the Price Hill Park, there will be refreshments and door prizes with local musician Silas Reed of Silas Reed ‘N’ Da Books.

These two Little Free Libraries will join a growing collection in Oxford. There is currently a Little Free Library in Avent Park and a handful residing on private lawns such as Northpointe subdivision, Community Green neighborhood and on South 14th Street.

Little Free Library in Avent Park, picture courtesy Brenda West
Little Free Library in Avent Park, picture courtesy Brenda West

A Little Free Library is a locally-constructed book stand that can be filled with books donated by residents and visitors. These book stands are a part of a national movement that began in 2009 when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin built a model of a one-room schoolhouse that he filled with free books and placed in his front yard as a tribute to his mother. Bol then teamed up with Rick Brooks of the University of Washington – Madison to build over 2,509 free little libraries (more than Andrew Carnegie’s 2,509 free libraries) throughout the world. More about the Little Free Library can be read at http://littlefreelibrary.org

The Round Table Book Club and the Woman’s Book Club have teamed up with Oxford Parks Commission (OPC) to bring the Little Free Libraries to Oxford to spread the joy of reading throughout the city of Oxford.

Brenda West, a member of the Round Table Book Club, said she was inspired when she saw her first Little Free Library in Boulder, Colorado last September. She was happy to find existing Little Free Libraries in Oxford upon her return, but the awe stayed with her since. She said that when she stayed at a bed and breakfast in New Orleans this past January, she saw another Little Free Library.

Little Free Library in Colorado, photo courtesy Brenda West
Little Free Library in Colorado, photo courtesy Brenda West

“It just really spoke to me,” said West. “I thought that since Oxford has six parks, why shouldn’t there be a Little Free Library in each one of the parks?”

With the unveiling of two new Little Free Libraries, Oxford is halfway there. West is quick to turn down credit for leadership on the project. To her, these two Little Free Libraries were a group effort by Oxford Parks Commission, the Round Table Book Club, Woman’s Book Club and the Price Hill Road community as well as her family and friends. Her own daughter, Michele West Stubor painted the Little Free Library stand that will appear in Stone Center Park, and Claire Whitehurst painted the Little Free Library that will appear in Price Hill Park. The two Little Free Libraries were built by Julien Tatum.

She believes that the mission to have multiple Little Free Libraries throughout Oxford could be a city-wide group effort, much like the teamwork behind the unveilings in Stone Center Park and Price Hill Park.

West said, “A lot of people worked to make it happen. I brought up the idea to my book group and they loved it. We came to Oxford Parks Commission and they were enthusiastic. The book clubs said they’ll take care of the inside and the OPC said they’ll take care of the outside if there is any leaking or damage to the exterior.”

The Woman’s Book Club also joined West’s Round Table Book Club in bringing the Little Free Libraries to the parks in Oxford.

The original Little Free Library. Photo from littlefreelibrary.org
The original Little Free Library. Photo from littlefreelibrary.org

Julie Chadwick of Woman’s Book Club has worked on bringing the Little Free Library to Price Hill Park.

Chadwick said in an email: “The Woman’s Book Club is thrilled to be partnering with the OPC in establishing a LFL at Price Hill! Through Margaret Gipson and Preston Taylor, we’re getting to know the Price Hill community. I believe LFL’s also provide a great way for communities to become closer, through ‘sharing this love of reading!’”

Chadwick expressed additional gratefulness for Margaret Gipson “for her work and support” in this effort. Gipson is a retired schoolteacher who went to families who live on Price Hill Road to garner community support for a Little Free Library in the Price Hill Park.

Oxford Alderman Preston Taylor overlooks Ward V which includes Price Hill Park. He said, “I am very excited about it because it is going to help out with the children. See you have to read, and that’s really the start of education. I’m just excited and proud, and plus that will give the children something to do during the summer, train them in reading.”

OPC Executive Director Seth Gaines has been described by West as enthusiastic for the project. He said, “The Oxford Park Commission is proud to have two new Little Free Libraries in Stone Park and Price Hill Park to join the one already in Avent Park. We could not ask for better partners than the RoundTable Book Club and the Women’s Book Club, who are going to play a vital role in helping stock the libraries. The Little Free Libraries will benefit the local youth from the communities who want to benefit from the love of reading that these book clubs appreciate.”

Sarah Frances Hardy
Sarah Frances Hardy

The two book clubs already have a list drawn up on who will donate the books. West reveals some of the books that will appear in the Little Free Libraries: Shore Excursion, Smart Kids with School Problems, A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney, The Lost Hero and donated books such as Puzzled by Pink from Oxford’s children books author Sarah Frances Hardy.

To bring a Little Free Library to Oxford to add to the growing collection, visit the Registry page on https://littlefreelibrary.org and follow the instructions. Registering a Little Free Library will help the national organization document the existing bookstands into an interactive map so the Oxonians and visitors may find them in Oxford and across the United States.

West said, “It’s so great to me to live in a town that cares so much about literature. We’re just sharing the love of reading with everyone in the community.”


Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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