‘Reading gives us someplace to go...’

By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 4/28/17

Memorial Park Elementary School recently received Jasper’s third free library.

The free library program is designed for community members to leave a book and take a book, free of charge. After examining the success of other free libraries in Alabama, Jasper Main Street Executive Director Mike Putman worked to make the idea a reality in Jasper.

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‘Reading gives us someplace to go...’

Posted

Memorial Park Elementary School recently received Jasper’s third free library.

The free library program is designed for community members to leave a book and take a book, free of charge. After examining the success of other free libraries in Alabama, Jasper Main Street Executive Director Mike Putman worked to make the idea a reality in Jasper.

Free libraries are in place at Lavish Coffee Bar and T.R. Simmons Elementary School, and the two latest free libraries have been placed at Memorial Park Elementary and the Walker County Courthouse Annex.

Each free library holds books inside a repurposed Daily Mountain Eagle newspaper box.

“Resurrecting these decommissioned newspaper boxes is a creative way that we can engage our community,” Eagle Publisher James Phillips said. “Providing the boxes is a small way that we can serve area citizens. We also appreciate the hard work that has been done by other partners in this project and the incredibly talented artists who have donated their time and skills to making the free libraries more than just a literacy program, but also an art project in our county.”

Memorial Park’s free library was painted by artist Missy Miles, who has completed a number of murals in Jasper. An owl is painted on one side of the sky blue box, along with a banner that reads “Be wise & read.” The other side of the box is decorated with parachutes and crayons. The front of the box has a quote by Mason Cooley that reads, “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.”

Memorial Park’s free library is in honor of their librarian, Lisa O’Mary. School employees said O’Mary will be retiring at the end of the current school year. O’Mary said the free library has already been popular, especially among older students.

“I can’t keep it stocked with books. It has really taken off,” she said. “I think it’s going to be great for our kids during the summer.”

The fourth free library, placed at the Walker County Courthouse Annex, is painted a deep blue and decorated with colorful puzzle pieces. “Every piece belongs” is painted on the side of the box, which was painted by clients of The Arc of Walker County. In addition to free library boxes, the Eagle has donated two boxes to the Cordova City Jail to be used as a library for their inmates. A newspaper box will also be donated to the Pregnancy Test and Resource Center of Jasper to house free baby supplies.

Partners in the free library project sponsored by Jasper Main Street include Lamar’s Glass, Precision Collision of Alabama LLC, Honda of Jasper, Wal-Mart Jasper, Daily Mountain Eagle, Walker County Arts Alliance and the Literacy Council of Central Alabama-Walker County.

Artists who paint the free library boxes are offered a stipend, provided by grant funding. Those interested in painting one of the free library boxes or anyone who would like to sponsor a free library may call Jasper Main Street Executive Director Mike Putman at (205) 275-7789.

Community members who wish to donate books to be placed in area boxes may drop them off at the Walker County Arts Alliance Office, located on the first floor of First Bank of Jasper.