Did you know that children who grow up in homes where there are no books for them to read, could end up, academically speaking, three years behind the kids who have lots of books in their homes? It would make sense then, kids should have access to books.
Unfortunately, no one knows how long the Glacier County Library will be closed and for now, that eliminates a very good place for kids to obtain books.
“It’s been a bleak time without our library, as it has always been our favorite piece of Cut Bank. We miss it dearly,” stated Lara Poulton.
Knowing how much her three children love books and love to read, Lara decided to do something for not only her own kids, but for other book-loving kids and adults too. That is why you will see the “Little Free Library” house sitting outside their fenced yard between 4th and 5th Avenues Southeast on Second Street in Cut Bank.
“Little Free Library is their official name and they are all over the country,” she said. “I’ve thought they were a great idea since I first heard of them years ago. We decided to put one up now mostly because of COVID-19 and the kids around here not having access to either the school or public libraries at this time.”
The way the Little Free Libraries work is simple and perfect. The little library house contains books for all ages–children’s books and adult books of all genres.
When you use the free library, you are welcome to take a book of your choosing. When you are finished with it, you can return it and see if another book strikes your fancy or keep it and possibly find another way to share the book with someone else. The whole concept is about keeping the free library filled with books for everyone to read.
“You may take a book or leave a book. You can return a book when you are done for someone else to enjoy as well. Right now, there are many mid-level elementary chapter books, a few picture books and a few adult books,” Lara explained.
“We are a family of readers and have a lot of books that we’d like to share. We also recently helped Cory’s (her husband) parents move and they donated several boxes to the cause. We will be adding new titles regularly, for both kids and adults and hopefully it will be a different selection each time someone visits it.”
When Lara and her family decided to put up the Little Free Library, she admits, they did not think they could build one of their own.
The website, www.littlefreelibrary.org, has a number of models you can purchase to build your own. However, Lara opted for a custom built one created by family friend Steve Lowery.
“I’m not very handy, so I called Steve to see if he’d make us one to paint and put up. He agreed and he and his boys, Burke and Sam, transformed a single kitchen cabinet into a book-roofed library within a day or two.”
Shortly after the Lowery family dropped off the little library for the Poultons to take over with the painting part of the project, Steve lost his mom to cancer.
“She had been in our lives as a ‘grandma’ figure for years and she had been a teacher. We wanted to dedicate this Little Free Library in her memory, as her grandkids built it. There is a plaque with her name on it on the front of the library,” Lara shared.
Lara and her son, Charlie, recently finished the painting on the library and while there are a few other things they hope to add to complete the look, Lara said their library is open for business.
The Poulton’s Little Free Library is available for book swapping from morning to early evening. It is put away during the night-time hours.
“The importance of reading cannot be understated. It is the way we understand viewpoints other than our own, how we escape, how we learn and get inspired. It’s as important as healthy eating and exercise, in my opinion,” she said.
The Little Free Library organization and countless people like the Poultons must feel the same way about books and reading. There are over 100,000 of these free little libraries scattered about in over 100 countries.
According to the website, “Through Little Free Library book exchanges, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.”
It is the hope of the program, and the Poultons, to inspire a love of reading, build a community with this type of library and ignite creativity for readers around the world.