By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The first time Carol Doerfler saw one, she was intrigued.
“I remember seeing one and thinking, ‘What is that?’” she said.
Doerfler, a longtime active member of the West Keizer Neighborhood Association, later saw a story about a Little Free Library in South Salem and realized that was the one she’d seen. After thinking about it a couple of years, she brought the idea up to the WKNA board.
When nothing happened, Doerfler brought the idea up again. This time, she got some funding and support. Doerfler hopes to have her little library up at Moneda Avenue and Shoreline Drive by mid-August.
“We had an old bookcase that belonged to (husband) Martin’s friend Bill Randol,” Doerfler said. “We repurposed it into a little library. Bill was an avid reader, so it seems appropriate. I used to be an avid reader and Martin still is.”
According to information at littlefreelibrary.org, the concept was started by Wisconsin’s Todd Bol in 1996 but really started to take off in 2010. Little Free Library was established as a nonprofit organization in May 2012. There are currently 25,000 locations around the world, including in all 50 states and more than 70 countries. It’s estimated more than 35 million books have changed hands as part of the exchange. The organization hopes to have 50,000 locations by 2017.
Doerfler is doing her share to help, in part because she likes the basic concept.
“You take a book and leave a book,” she said. “It’s helping to promote literacy throughout the world.”
Doerfler has registered her little library and is the official steward of it.
“You look over it,” Doerfler said of her responsibilities. “You just make sure there are books in it.”
According to the research she has done, Doerfler said vandalism isn’t typically a problem, especially if the library is in a busy area.
“This is a busy corner, with a lot of walkers going by,” Doerfler said, referring to both adults as well as children during the school year. “A number of kids walk by here on the way to Kennedy Elementary. I don’t think anyone will cause any trouble.”
While hers is made from a bookcase, Doerfler noted various kinds of material can be used.
“They have been made out of garbage cans, kid wagons and plastic totes,” she said. “When I brought the idea up (at WKNA), the board loved it. They thought it was a great idea.”
Doerfler is predicting reactions to her library will match her initial ones.
“People may wonder, ‘What is that?’” she said. “I think there will be curiosity. I’m really excited. It will be fun.”
The map on the little library website shows there is also one located at 899 Parkmeadow Drive NE. That is the one in front of Gayle Horton’s home, done through her Salem Sunset Rotary Club in memory of her late husband John, an avid reader who died of ALS last fall.
Horton heard about the libraries via The Rotarian, the Rotary Club magazine, in the spring of 2014. Rotary members asked the Hortons if they’d be willing to have a library in front of their home, an offer that was accepted warmly.
“They were hoping to dedicate it to him instead of doing it in memory of him, but he went too quickly,” Horton said, noting the library was done in March. Steve Judson did the bulk of the work, using leftover paint from the Hortons to match the color of their home.
For Horton and Rotary overall, literacy has long been a focus. As such, she’s thrilled with the library.
“I love it,” Horton said. “I can’t tell you how excited I was when it first got books and people were looking through them. I’m so excited seeing people using it. More people are dropping off books than taking them.”
Horton estimated the two shelves currently have about 30 books and joked she needs more shelf space.