'Little free book boxes': Student to bring libraries to 3 neighborhoods

Hood River Valley High School junior Lucy Fine is bringing little free book boxes to Hood River neighborhoods this month.

Photo by Trisha Walker
Hood River Valley High School junior Lucy Fine is bringing little free book boxes to Hood River neighborhoods this month.



A trio of “little free book boxes” will come to Hood River this spring, thanks to Lucy Fine, Hood River Valley High School junior.

Fine has chosen the book boxes as her Extended Application (EA) project — based on the Little Free Library idea — and plans to have them installed by the end of the month.

“I’m interested in contributing to the community,” said Fine of creating the project. “I wanted to help people other than myself.

“Plus I really like literature,” she added.

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There are two little free libraries in Hood River already, one on May Street near the elementary school, and another at Montello and Ninth. And while not a traditional book box, there’s also a bench at Parkhurst Place, 2450 May St., that’s part community library, part memorial, where anyone is able to stop and select — and read — a book.

She’s working with Jana Hannigan, children’s librarian at the Hood River Library, as her mentor, to collect the books initially needed to fill the boxes. Children’s books are encouraged, but any book family-friendly book will be accepted. To donate, visit the children’s section, where a collection box is located.

The book boxes will be self-sustaining, as when someone takes a book, they are asked to leave another behind in its place.

Besides Hannigan, Fine has been working with Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District to place the boxes, one of which will be located at the Hood River Aquatic Center on May Street.

“We are very excited to partner with her,” said Marcy Wily, Aquatic Center supervisor. “Lucy’s idea for a book box is a great idea, and the aquatic center is a good, central location. And what better way to spend time than to come for a swim and read a book on the lawn?”

Wily added that one of the center’s missions is to “provide safe, economical recreation to all of our users, and I’d argue that reading is a great recreation, so we are excited to expand our horizons in that way.”

The box will go in front of the building, on the south side of the front door, to help keep it out of the elements, Wily said.

A box is also slated to go in at the Children’s Park, at the corner of Ninth and Eugene. A third location is currently in the works for Belmont.

“I’m going for highly populated areas with lots of people to access the books,” she said.

Added Hannigan, “The locations Lucy chose are places where the Hispanic and white communities come together, so that books will be equally available across cultures and economic spheres.”

Fine is also working with builder — and neighbor — Mike Kitts on the boxes’ construction. She plans to paint the boxes “bright colors that are fitting for the location, so they are noticeable but not out of place,” and mount a plaque of some sort to thank Kitts for their construction.

Fine grew up in a Seattle with such a book boxes, so the concept isn’t a new one for her.

“I remember when I first saw a little free book box in my friend’s neighborhood,” she said. “I was a little apprehensive because I had learned from living in a city that it’s rare when anything is truly free. However, after some encouragement and assuring that I wasn’t stealing from someone’s personal library, I took home the book ‘Life of Pi,’ which I loved.

“My introduction to the little book box taught me a lot about community — just by its existence as an act of genuine, collective curiosity. I was a little bit of a pessimistic 10-year-old, but the box gave me some of the childish optimism I was lacking because of its simple goodness.”

And ultimately, that’s the point of the little libraries.

“(They) depend on the community,” she said. ““It’s supposed to be a project for the community — they will have to help sustain the boxes.”



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