Startzville Librarian Introduces Little Free Libraries
Startzville Elementary is located exactly halfway between Bulverde and Tye Preston Memorial libraries, which makes walking or biking to either impossible for little legs.
Kimberly Nance, Startzville librarian, decided to make it easier for her early readers by bringing books to right to their neighborhoods with Little Free Libraries.
She first noticed them during a visit to her home state of Florida, and decided the concept would translate nicely to Canyon Lake, where homes and subdivisions are far-flung and often bisected by steep hills and scrub.
Based on a ‘take a book, return a book’ honor system, these mini-libraries look like overgrown mailboxes, hold between 20 to 100 books, and can withstand weather of all sorts. They’re usually installed near mail areas, common areas and swimming pools frequented by children and their parents. As of August 2018, there were 75,000 registered Little Free Libraries in all 50 states and 88 countries.
After a little research over the summer, Nance began the process of bringing Little Free Libraries to Canyon Lake. She met with charity groups and wrote letters to homeowner associations in neighborhoods on the feeder pattern for Startzville Elementary, asking for their permission to install little libraries. So far Mobile Home Estates, Mission Hills Ranch, Canyon Lake Forest, Ensenada Shores, Las Brisas and Canyon Lake Hills have agreed to become “reader leaders.” More subdivisions are expected to join soon.
But getting permission is the easy part.
Little Free Libraries must be registered so they show up on GPS. Kits are available online, but supplies aren’t — and it takes a lot of wood and plenty of effort to build one then stock its shelves with books.
Nance said the Canyon Lake community jumped right in to help with the complicated logistics of bringing books to kids.
Startzville Elementary quickly partnered with Canine Classmates, Canyon Lake Noon Lions Club, Canyon Lake Rotary Club, Boy Scouts of America and many others. Bill Schumacher and the Friends of Tye Preston Memorial also are a great resource because they’ve installed a Little Free Library in front of Ace Hardware in Sattler.
Canine Classmates Executive Director Donna Dishman is donating a charter number for each Little Free Library in memory of her mother, Billie McGee. She was a huge advocate for early literacy and a supporter of children experiencing the love of reading with a furry friends.
Bill Nance, vice president of Southwest Homes, Inc., secured wood from BMC Lumber to use in construction of the first of many Little Free Libraries for Starzville neighborhoods. Terry Minor, a member of the Canyon Lake Rotary Club, was instrumental in getting the project up and running by donating his time and expertise in designing and cutting the patterns for the little libraries, Nance said.
Scouts of America will assemble several of the libraries as a service project.
First United Methodist Church, along with Bill Schmacher and Mark Matier, are working on one for their school campus. Preschool children will help paint the outside of the boxes.
Comal County Sheriff’s Office, Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce and parents donated books for the Little Free Libraries.
Dishman said she hopes this massive team effort will eventually ring the lake with between 15 to 20 red dots on littlefreelibrary.org.
“This is a big endeavor,” she said. “Our needs for literacy intervention are huge.”
The Next Chapter
But the next chapter in the story of Canyon Lake’s Little Free Libraries will be written by Startzville students, who along with art teacher Natalie Jones will study different artists before picking a theme (“Picasso” or “Van Gogh,” etc.) for their very own neighborhood library. After each little library is painted and stocked with books for preschoolers and elementary students, Nance will schedule and plan ribbon-cutting ceremonies in students’ neighborhoods.
Students can volunteer to monitor and maintain their neighborhood’s library, making sure it stays dry and has plenty of books. To add to their authority and sense of responsibility, Megan Goettsch made backpacks that read “Little Free Library Leader.” Students will use these backpacks to transport books to the libraries.
Startzville Elementary is a “7 Habits of Highly Effective Kids” school, and earned a Lighthouse status for its efforts in May.
“Because of the habits instilled in our students, they will lead the charge to care for and maintain the Little Free Libraries in their neighborhoods,” Nance said.
With any luck, there’ll soon be more libraries than boat ramps ringing Canyon Lake.