Little libraries bring books to Picayune parks

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 22, 2020

Three new little free libraries have sprung up at Picayune’s city parks.

A bright turquoise library is in Jack Reed Park and a light yellow one can be found in Friendship Park. A red library that looks like a schoolhouse, complete with miniature school bell, is near the entrance of Crosby Commons, across the street from full sized schools and the full sized library.

Little free libraries offer free books that anyone can pick up and take home. Anyone can also leave a book behind for use by a new reader. Little free libraries can be found all over the county and there was already one little free library in town on Williams Avenue, among others. The Little Free Library website has a map with the location of each library, so out of town visitors can find out where the libraries in Picayune are located.

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The new libraries are the work of Picayune Junior High English teacher Maggie Fitts. She wanted to encourage local kids to read more and make sure they had access to books during the pandemic.

“Our public library is still not fully opened yet, so I was worried with the kids being out of school and the public library being closed that they wouldn’t have materials at home,” she said.

The county’s full sized public libraries will be reopening their doors to patrons Monday with COVID-19 prevention measures in place, and curbside service will continue to be available. Computer access is also available.

The little free libraries give people another easy way to access free books.

“They can just pop by the park, grab a book and take it home,” said Fitts.

To get the three libraries set up, she contacted Eric Morris with the city of Picayune and got permission to install them at the local parks. Her dad constructed the three libraries, making sure they would keep the books sheltered from the elements. They recycled an old cabinet for one of the miniature libraries and a door was added to a used bookshelf to make another. Each library is kept stocked with books for children and adults.

Fitts said she restocks them about once a week, when the books on the shelves begin to dwindle. A plethora of donated books from other teachers and people in the community to help with the project were also used. She still has several hundred and does not currently need any donations, although anyone can leave a book or take a book at the little libraries.

People have donated and left books in all kinds of genres, including cookbooks, science fiction, children’s books and religious texts.

“Some have been gently used and some look brand new,” she said.
The libraries were installed on July 31, Harry Potter’s birthday.

“I remember I was like, I have to have it ready for Harry Potter’s birthday. Sure enough, somebody had donated some of his books,” said Fitts.

She came back to check on one of the libraries two hours later, and those books had already gone home with a new reader.

She plans to decorate them for holidays and make sure the libraries are stocked with seasonally appropriate stories, like scary books for Halloween.