Utica installs its first Little Free Library

Community bookcase is located in Grant Park

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published June 7, 2017


UTICA — A quaint wooden Little Free Library is the newest resident of Grant Park in Utica, thanks to book enthusiast Heather Wojcik and her carpentry-savvy husband, Karl Wojcik.

The Wojciks worked together with the Utica Public Library and the Utica Department of Public Works to garner publicity for and install the community bookcase. The motto of the grass-roots movement is “take a book; return a book.”

While the Wojciks are Sterling Heights residents, Heather said she has always enjoyed utilizing the Utica Public Library too.

“It’s close,” she said. “I took my kids there, but mostly it’s me. I just love it. It’s a small-town library. Everybody in there is just so nice. They get me any book I put on hold and just make me feel so special.”

She said she has always been interested in the concept of the Little Free Library, an initiative that has registered mini-libraries all around the nation and world, and she and Karl were in a position where they had the time to take on the project and wanted to give back to the community.

Because the Wojciks live in the type of neighborhood where not many kids walk to school, Heather said it wasn’t ideal to install the Little Free Library at their home, but when she mentioned the idea to the library staff, they were heartily on board.

“He made it in March; he kind of made it for my birthday,” she said. “I’d love to be able to do more, and he’s willing to make another. We’ll see how this one goes.”

The Utica Public Library displayed the bookcase portion of the Little Free Library in order to raise awareness about the project, and the Utica DPW installed it in Grant Park June 1.

Marsha Doege, director of the Utica Public Library, said she was thrilled when the Wojciks approached the library about the project.

“It was entirely initiated on their end, although I had been looking at the info on it,” Doege said. “Once the structure is in place, we’ll be able to register it as a location. There are people that look (the Little Free Libraries) up online when traveling.”

Doege said the library will help stock the bookcase, along with the Wojciks and Kelly Calandrino, a library board member and Utica resident.

“There will be a cross section of kids books and adult books and everything to start it off,” she said. “If people don’t leave a book, that’s OK if they don’t. We just encourage them to leave a book if they take one. It’s just a matter of keeping it stocked with adequate books in it.”

She said Grant Park is the busiest park in the city and that she believes it will be a perfect first location to install a Little Free Library.

“It’s beautifully made,” Doege said. “They did just an outstanding job.”

For more information, call the Utica Public Library at (586) 731-4141. Grant Park is located at 8201 Hahn St., west of Van Dyke Avenue. The Little Free Library is visible from the road and is located between two benches near the entrance of the park.

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

Editor’s note: Sarah Wojcik is not related to Heather and Karl Wojcik.