Little library, big impact
A Little Free Library crops up in St. Peters with the with the hopes of creating a new community of readers
By Brett Auten
For Shannon Masur, it’s all about the books.
Inspired by Little Free Libraries – a global front-yard book exchange program that numbers 70,000-plus around the world – Masur is sharing her love of the written word by increasing access to books for everyone.
Masur put in place a new Little Free Library at 2451 Willott Rd. in St. Peters (between Discovery Kids and Anthony’s Produce on Jungermann) and was inspired to join the movement to share books in hopes of bringing people together and creating a community of readers.
“I’d see Little Free Library boxes while traveling and enjoyed looking for them when I went somewhere new,” she said. “The one that stands out to me the most was a tiny box wedged between two posts in Montreal, Canada. It held only four or five books at a time, but it was clearly used frequently.”
Masur hosted a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for her Little Free Library in March and those in attendance were given bookmarks, stickers, refreshments and a book or two to take home.
Masur has thought of everything. A dog hook is installed on the post and dog treats are in the library to help distract canine friends while you browse. Assorted teas in the library are available to enjoy while reading, along with bookmarks. She also installed a solar light in the library for anyone visiting in the evening. And so far, weather permitting, participation has been good.
“It’s very popular on nice days,” Masur said. “We see a lot more movement, a lot more books moving in and out.”
And at her grand opening, the St. Charles City-County Library District had three librarians in attendance.
“This is not in competition with the library. It’s an addition to it,” Masur said. “We’re all about getting people to read.”
Becca Bates is a teacher’s assistant at Discovery Kids and said that though small in stature, the new addition to the neighborhood has drawn plenty of buzz among the students.
“The kids get really excited about it,” Bates said. “I think it is in an awesome spot. (The location) brings a lot of different people together. It encourages everyone to read.”
Masur grew up in St. Charles and the library is in memory of her mother, Chris Parkton, who was an avid reader.
“She never went anywhere without a book,” she said. “We signed up for the summer reading program every year and that is something my son and myself continue to do.”
Before diving into the project, Masur searched to see if there was a Little Free Library in the area and the only one she could find was Doug Raines’ at the Firehouse on Willot, so she reached out seeking tips.
“He was excited to help me get the ball rolling,” she said. “When we got off the phone, he was just as excited as I was.”
As the months progress, Masur will have different themes from Earth Day, opening day of baseball season, the start of the school year and on and on.
The Little Free Library nonprofit organization has been honored by the Library of Congress, the National Book Foundation, the American Library Association, and Reader’s Digest named it one of the “50 Surprising Things We Love About America.” Each year, nearly 10 million books are shared in Little Free Libraries.
“Our Little Free Library doesn’t just belong to us. It belongs to everyone,” Masur said. “Please take books. Please give books, please share books.”
To learn more, visit littlefreelibrary.org or to learn more about this specific library, visit @littlefreelibrarystpetersmo on Instagram and Facebook.
CUTLINE: Submitted photo Shannon Masur stands next to the Little Free Library she opened in St. Peters on March 25.