Little libraries are coming to Fairmont and other areas of Spalding County

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The free “take a book, leave a book” program is being spearheaded by Brett Bell for the Spalding Collaborative. Bell said the “whole purpose is to promote literacy.”

Bell presented the idea to the Spalding County Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission last week, getting a recommendation to put one of the little libraries outside the Fairmont Community Center. Bell said the goal is to put one up each month around the community, with assistance from community leaders and civic clubs.

The little free libraries, Bell said, are hand-crafted structures filled with constantly changing collections of books donated and shared by persons of all ages and backgrounds. Most are placed in front yards, parks and gardens. The libraries are built to withstand weather of all kinds and hold 20 to 100 books.

Bell, owner of Designs Created International, said, “My LLC has purchased the first one for the CHARMS (after-school) program” now at Fairmont Homes. CHARMS stands for Caring Helpful Active Residents of Meriwether Homes and was founded by Eula Redding.

Bell said 11 other little libraries are planned, with the Rotary Club of Griffin sponsoring the second one at Fairmont Community Center. When asking the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission for permission, Bell said, that one is “a galvanized steel structure from Newton Crouch, with three boxes for elementary, middle school and high school age-appropriate books. Each box holds 50 to 75 books. This one will set the precedent to move forward.”

In order to be successful, the initiative needs community involvement to succeed, Bell said. “We need stewards to keep the library supplied with books,” he said. “We need businesses to be a drop-point for books. We need builders to construct libraries. We need artists to decorate the libraries. This initiative will afford each of us an opportunity to work alongside one another regardless of the organization to which we may be assigned.”

To date, supporters that have pledged participation, he said, include First National Bank, Well-Star Spalding Regional Hospital, Newton Crouch, Griffin Housing Authority, Georgia Power, Flint River Regional Library, Rock Springs Christian Academy, Griffin-Spalding Chamber of Commerce Leadership, Spalding High School, Fairmont Alumni Association, Rotary Club of Griffin, and Spalding County Parks and Recreation. The goal, he said, is to “give kids that don’t have books the joy of reading,” and put them in neighborhoods and other county parks, since children can’t get to the library on their own.

“Reading,” he said, “is a path to get out of poor socioeconomic environments.”
There are little libraries in the community already, Bell said, one by Dr. Bruce Reid’s home
and one at Cowan Road Elementary School. “The Spalding Collaborative’s Little Free Library initiative belongs to the entire city and county,” said Regina Abbott, executive director of Spalding Collaborative. “It’s our hope that the Little Free Libraries will bring a little more joy, a little more connection and a whole lot more books to our community.”

Doris Breland, administrative assistant for the Spalding Collaborative, said, “Placing Little Free Libraries in our neighborhoods implements Spalding Collaborative’s strategy to promote reading. Together we can create an interest in books, reading and learning. Brett Bell is our champion behind the collaborative’s Little Free Library movement.”

Along with permission to put them on county property, Bell was also asking that county staff check the boxes to make sure there’s only age-appropriate content in the boxes. Leisure Services Manager Kelly Leger confirmed that county staff would only be responsible for checking the boxes, making sure there’s nothing inappropriate in there, but not for stocking them.

There was some concern about books not being returned or other things being put in the boxes since they are open, but Bell said it is a risk he is willing to take, and another reason he wanted community support for them first. “I don’t want it to be prohibited because of crime in a neighborhood,” Bell said. “This is so important to me, to start this where it is most needed.”

The Chamber of Commerce will have a ribbon-cutting for the Little Free Library at the Fairmont Homes after-school program CHARMS, at 211 Quincy Ave., Apartment 2, Griffin, at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 31.

To learn more about how you can participate in the initiative contact Brett Bell at
brettbell@designscreated.biz.“Be a part of helping to make our community great,” he said.

Ray Lightner, Griffin Daily News Staff