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School library offers community books

Great Lakes Principal Ryan Haroldson cuts the ribbon for the school's little free library Wednesday in front of the school. The Great Lakes PTA, a retired English professor and a troop of Girl Scouts collaborated to build and stock the structure, which is open to the community. Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com

Great Lakes Elementary School opened a little free library Wednesday with applause, a speech, books for all and a giant pair of scissors.

"We were more than happy to bring over some blue ribbon in representation of the Superior School District and bring scissors and honor this great day for them," said Jake Siptroth, foundation education director with the Superior-Douglas County Chamber of Commerce.

The idea to host one of the freestanding library boxes came from the Great Lakes PTA. President Sara Schubert McKone said it was an opportunity to share the school's love of reading with the community.

"Everybody deserves books to read," she said.

So the school is stepping up to provide them.

"We're just trying to become more involved in the community," said Beth Tepsa, PTA vice president.

Gianfranco Pagnucci of Barnes, whose three grandsons attend Great Lakes, constructed the mini library, his second. The first can be found outside the Barnes Town Hall.

"He was an English professor," said Pagnucci's son, Stefan. "He does this for fun."

Members of Girl Scout Troop 4436 collected children's books for the library through a drop box in the school entryway. Schubert McKone estimated they received more than 300 books. Some were distributed to other little free libraries in the area. The rest wait in totes to restock the School's library, which rests in a planter outside the school's front doors.

The Girl Scouts, all third-graders, were happy to see a little free library spring up at their school.

"You don't have to pay," said Nora Fennessey, 9.

Visitors can help themselves to books, day or night.

"And it's good for kids to read," said Maddie Mohr, 9.

The library has age-appropriate books for children in kindergarten through grade five, said Abby McKone, 8. It includes board books, picture books and chapter books, some of which the Girl Scouts said they were interested in reading.

The little free library is open any time.

"Remember, if you take a book, donate a book," Mohr said.

Donations of children's books are welcome. They can be set right inside the little free library.

"Just put them in, because I'm sure it will empty out very quickly," Schubert McKone said, especially when summer school starts June 18.

The PTA president has a little free library at home, as well. Unlike the school library, which she expects will get heavy traffic, hers includes small stuffed animals to serve as reading buddies, pencils and trinkets. The little libraries come in many different styles, but all of them have the same goal — to inspire a love of reading, build community and spark creativity through neighborhood book exchanges.

For information, visit littlefreelibrary.org.

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