Passport to the world

What's square, sits in a corner all day, yet travels around the world? Here's a hint: Stoney's Free Library in the town of Oakland stocks hundreds of them. With a wooden sign and a Facebook post, 8-year-old Stoney Alseth launched his library at 5...

Stoney Alseth, 8, poses for a portrait Tuesday morning with some of the books he donated for the free library at his home in the town of Oakland. (Jed Carlson/

What’s square, sits in a corner all day, yet travels around the world?

Here’s a hint: Stoney’s Free Library in the town of Oakland stocks hundreds of them.

With a wooden sign and a Facebook post, 8-year-old Stoney Alseth launched his library at 5927 E. County Road B last weekend, prompted by a television spot urging kids to “change their world.” He concentrated on something that opens the world to him - books.

“Stoney reads more books than anybody, I think,” said his mother, Paulette Alseth. During the school year, he racked up between 600 and 800 minutes of reading a week with help from his parents and grandmother, Valerie Coder.

“Stoney loves to read and wants everyone to have access to books,” Alseth said. So they bought a shed from Range Builders and converted it into a library. One side holds colorful crates of children’s books, all of them Stoney’s.


“He wanted to donate them all,” Alseth said. The only books he hasn’t offered to the public are the Bad Kitty and Weird School series, his favorites.

On the other side of the library rests a trove of titles his father, Randy, has been collecting for years.

“We have a little hoarding problem with books,” Alseth said.

The shed is located down the driveway close to the house. Anyone can drop by and take materials home. The family encourages visitors to sign a guest book, but there is no check-out process. If readers want to return the books, that would be appreciated, but they don’t have to. Once electricity is run to the library, it will be open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Stoney’s library is a wonderful addition to our rural community,” said area resident Melanie Sikveland.

Tuesday, Stoney’s teacher, Robin Silvernale, dropped by to look through the titles with her 5-year-old grandson, Will.

“Stoney’s read everything in our entire library,” the Four Corners Elementary School teacher said. Searching his collection, she found classics like “The Snowy Day” and newer books like “One Dog Canoe.” A beekeeper, she decided to take home “Bee Me” as well as a childhood favorite.

“I love this one, ‘Blueberries for Sal,’” Silvernale said.


Little Free Libraries have popped up throughout Superior’s South End this year. Stoney’s library stands apart because of its size and location.

“We figured it would have to be a little bigger for the country,” Alseth said.

The Superior Public Library has branch libraries in Lake Nebagamon and Solon Springs, but the free library fills a void in the South Range area.

“We’re almost as good as the town library,” Coder said.

Better, Alseth said, because they have better books.

“And then there’s no library fine,” Silvernale said. “I’ve gotten in trouble with that a few times.”

Because they know what it’s like to have mobility issues, Stoney’s family is offering free book delivery to seniors and people with disabilities in South Range.

How awesome is it that Stoney’s family will deliver books to those in the area who aren’t able to come to the library?” Sikveland said.


“We will try to find the books you like to read and bring them to you,” Alseth posted on the page.

Stoney, who has cerebral palsy, can’t run and play like other boys. But books take his imagination wherever it wants to go.

“Some would see Stoney as disabled. I would say ‘no,’” said Wesley Koehler of Bennett, who plans to check out the library after healing from cataract surgery. “He is only limited by his ‘vision’ and he sees way more than we do. He is such an amazing little man. If we all were like Stoney, this world would be filled with love and hope and care for other people.”

For more information or to request book delivery in the South Range area, look up the Stoney’s Free Library Facebook page. Book donations are also accepted. They should be dropped off at the library building, not at the end of the driveway.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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