Hazel Park Neighborhood Enrichment planning Little Free Libraries

Madison - Park News | Published February 26, 2018

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HAZEL PARK — Little Free Libraries are beautifully painted newsstands packed full of books. You’re free to borrow them, keep them or donate more yourself. The idea is to promote literacy in the community by providing easy access to books. 

Currently, there are four Little Free Libraries in the city of Hazel Park: at the Recreation Center, the Art Park, Tuski Park and Scout Park. Now a fifth one is being planned for Hoover Elementary School, with another to follow at a location yet to be decided. 

The first four stands were sponsored by the Hazel Park District Library Friends, working with Hazel Park Neighborhood Enrichment (HPNE). The one planned for Hoover Elementary is sponsored entirely by HPNE.

“We plan to install it this spring,” said Lois Reithel, with HPNE. “That’s when the concrete will be poured, either through the city or the schools.”

She said that HPNE has two donated newsstands, but they’re still discussing where to install the second one. As for the newsstand at Hoover Elementary, local artist Richard Gage will be creating and installing miniature one-room schoolhouses to adorn the top of each lending library.

“We’ll put it near the entryway at the school, so kids as they’re coming and going can pick up books they want and bring books in,” Reithel said. “We also have staff at Hoover who have extra books they want to share in the box as well. Adult books and children books are good — the adults waiting for their kids can look through it and find books for them, too.”

She said the kids will leave their mark on the newsstand — literally. The plan is for the children at Hoover Elementary to put handprints in paint on the body of the box. 

Corrine Stocker, Hazel Park’s library director, said the Little Free Libraries have worked well. 

“Aside from some bouts of vandalism, we’ve had good experiences with our Little Free Libraries. I think that they’re a great way to get books out into public spaces where they can hopefully inspire someone to read,” Stocker said. “Each of our lending libraries is stocked by a volunteer from the Hazel Park Library Friends, with materials that were donated to the library or removed from the library’s collection. We try to include something for everyone — every age, every reading level, and a variety of subjects and interests.”

Reithel said lending libraries are also a way to create opportunities for people. Reading can open one’s mind to new possibilities.  

“Neighborhood Enrichment is about helping where you find a need, and we feel there’s a need for books and reading in the community,” Reithel said. “For both adults and children, books are the road to success.”  

Hazel Park Neighborhood Enrichment meets the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Hazel Park Recreation Center, 620 W. Woodward Heights Blvd.