by Lisa Tome
North East Elementary principal Lisa Lowe has long been a reading and literacy advocate.
Lowe has set up libraries inside local laundromats and done a great deal to get books into the hands of children.
Now she has a library outside the school building. It's open year round, 24 hours a day.
North East Elementary is now participating in the worldwide network of 36,000 Little Free Libraries.
The purpose of a Little Free Library is "To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations."
Lowe learned about Little Free Libraries while attending a state meeting. "I researched it and they are all over the world," said Lowe. She then worked to bring the plan to fruition. Students at Cecil County School of Technology built the wooden library. Lowe's cousin, Paul Mason, painted it. School system maintenance staffers installed it.
The whole purpose is to get books into the hands of children and adults, free with no library card required. The library outside North East Elementary can hold about 30 books at any one time, depending on their size. Lowe uses donations to keep it stocked. "People are using it. That excites me. What excites me most is the children's books (being used)," said Lowe. "If there is a book in a child's hands, that makes me happy."
She also gave careful consideration to where the little library was placed. It's in a pedestrian crosswalk in front of the school to assure safe borrowing.
For information about starting a library, go to littlefreelibrary.org. There is one already in North East on Michigan Court in Lakeside Mobile Home Park. That was started by a family in memory of their son who passed away.