HYDETOWN — “You may have noticed a special addition to Hydetown Elementary,” said teacher Norma Johnson to a large group of first and second graders on Tuesday.
Johnson held multiple ribbon cuttings for Hydetown Elementary students to introduce them to a new community resource, a Little Free Library that will stand outside the school’s main doors. The library will foster reading throughout the community, giving more rural students in the school district a place to grab a new book and get reading.
The Free Little Library is a small almost bird house-looking structure that can be found all across the country. The program provides a place for kids to take, leave or trade books in their community, encouraging literacy. The books are free to take, but the school asks that community members only take one or two books at a time, to not deplete the stock.
In places like Hydetown, where there isn’t a public library, it can be difficult for kids to get access to fresh reading materials. This library will give them a place to do that, while also being completely free.
“We want to make sure everyone has a chance to read,” said Johnson.
She also wants the community to know that even though the library is on school grounds, it is for everyone. Many of the books available will be for kids, but she said that there are books for parents to read to.
“When parents read it shows the kids,” she said.
Johnson first heard about these libraries in a class she was taking. She reached out to the organization, and started the process of getting a library at her school. She noticed that there is a free library in Titusville, and one in Pleasantville, but none for students west of the City.
She reached out to area organizations looking for a partner for the project, and the local VFW and American Legion chapters “pulled through.”
In attendance at the ceremony was Cody Rodgers, the Quartermaster for the local VFW chapter. When the chapter heard about the project, they knew it was something that they had to do.
“A lot of our members went to school here,” said Rodgers. “It means a lot to them to give back to the community and the school that meant so much to them.”
Rodgers himself was a former student of Hydetown Elementary. He also said that it is important for a community to have access to books, as reading “allows kids to learn and grow.”
Another spectator at the ceremony was Titusville Area School District Superintendent Stephanie Keebler. Keebler was happy to see the new library constructed outside the school, and hopes the students learn to love their new community resource.
“It is important for students further from town to have places like the free library to provide an opportunity for literacy skills,” she said.
Keebler believes the library will show the community the importance of literacy not only for students, but for all members of the community.
Johnson has registered the Hydetown Little Free Library with the national organization. The library might not show up on their website just yet, but will in the coming days.
Other free libraries in the area are located at 206 S. Martin Street in Titusville, and 114 West State Street in Pleasantville.
Dvorkin can be reached by email at Gdvorkin@titusvilleherald.com.