Little free libraries offer free books across Marquette County

North Central UP

MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich., (WJMN) – There are 100,000 registered Little Free Libraries in the world, eight of them are in Marquette County.

Behind these libraries are stewards, who not only build and maintain the libraries but also ensure there are books inside to share. Simone Vajda, purchased a little free library after seeing one on a trip to Washington D.C.

“Seeing the kids come and pick a book either reading here or at home, taking a surprise from here then I know they’ve been here I have a little guest book and reading what people sign, it warms my heart,” said Vajda.

Vajda says that she has plenty of donations in books to share with others and that it’s not required visitors leave a book if they take one.

“The books are free, please come anytime, take a book you don’t even have to exchange, we always have, I have lots of donations inside,” said Vajda. “Feel free to take a book, you can either bring it back or pass it on to a friend or neighbor or even bring it to another little free library.”

One of the things many of the stewards share in common is a love for reading. Janet Ringuette, another steward says she enjoys seeing the visitors to her library.

“Being a teacher, I always encourage reading so this was kind of my personal way to encourage reading in my neighborhood,” said Ringuette.

Ringuette says one of her favorite memories from when she first opened her library is when she saw a child picking out a book on his own.

“There was this woman and her kids and her son, it’s kind of high for his height, and so he, she got on her hands and knees in front of the library and he stood on her back because he wanted to pick out his own book,” said Ringuette.

She was inspired to put up a Little Free Library because libraries had been closed at the beginning of COVID-19. Ringuette says she missed going to the library and picking out a book.

“I’ve always loved books and loved to read and during quarantine our local library was closed and I knew that I probably wasn’t the only person who was missing going to the library to get books to read and so one late quarantine night I decided I was going to look on Pinterest and see what I could find,” said Ringuette.

One of the concerns Ringuette had was how she would get the books. She says she started with some of her own books and donations from family, but now she has extras from donations.

“Really it has run itself, people have donated totes full of books that I have stored in the house,” said Ringuette. “I have three totes of extra books stored in the house but I haven’t really had to use a lot because it kind of keeps itself full and we do notice a lot of people coming by.”

Paul Huard started his library in a different way, he bought half the books from the library at the K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base. He built a bigger scale version of a little free library in Ishpeming.

“Now I’ve got almost 3,000 books, don’t know what to do with it and I built the library downstairs and decided hey what the heck, I think I’m going to build me a library,” said Huard.

He put up the library in 2015 and says he used to have a table and chairs for people to sit and read at. Huard says his favorite part is that people enjoy the little free library.

“I’d come here and work on the property and I’d see people, kids just sitting down reading when they were done they’d put it back you know I said you can take it home if you want,” said Huard.

The library is on a rental property that Huard is selling. He says he’s not sure what the new owners will want to do with the library.

“I’ll see if the city or somebody wants it you know, I mean I’ll run it as long as I’m above ground, you know I’ll run it wherever it is,” Said Huard.

Huard built a second cabinet exclusively for children’s books but hasn’t put it up yet. He says he was planning on putting it next to his current Little Free Library until he decided to sell his property.

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