It started as an accident, but the Colvin Community Center in Radcliff is now home to the county’s newest small free library.
According to Loren Hales, who led the effort to create the Book Depot at Radcliff, she was initially seeking funding to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to the city after the northern branch of the Hardin County Public Library closed.
“I realized that people were at home (during the pandemic) and the library had closed and no one had access to the books,” she said.
Radcliff having low-income areas, Hales said she found research from the Literacy Foundation that 61% of low-income families did not have access to books.
“If you don’t have a library, something has to be done about it,” she said.
Hales contacted officials from the Early Childhood Education Department at Hardin County Schools who told her that if she could find a place they would find her a small library.
“So I called Maria Batistoni and she said, ‘I got you,’” Hales said.
Batistoni put Hales in touch with officials in the town of Radcliff to include the director of parks and recreation, Tim Jeffries, who found a location in Hales on Freedom Way across from the community center and town police station. .
“Eventually the little library appeared here, it was set up and, at that point, I started throwing books into it,” she said.
Hales credits Batistoni, Jeffries, other city officials, the HCS Early Years Department for the group’s effort to bring this little library to town. She also thanked the city’s public works employees for her installation.
“It’s definitely a team effort,” she said. “It certainly wasn’t all me.”
Small libraries are working on a take-out, leave-one type of system, Hales said, but some people come to donate and some only come to borrow.
“For the little library, you leave books, you take books, you can’t take books, which (my family) is doing right now,” she says.
While some small libraries have a variety of books, Hales said she is only focusing on children’s books in this one. His family, including his children Mackenzie and Hudson, stocked the library with books from their personal collection.
“I’m just excited to have him here in time for the pool opening as they get a lot of foot traffic,” she said last week.
The small library is on a well-lit public property in the city, bookworms can come anytime, any day to donate or borrow, Hales said.
“Just make sure you use it,” she says. “Because if people aren’t using it then there is no point in continuing (in the effort), but if people are using it then who knows how many we can find in town.” There has to be community participation. “
Hales said that now that this library is in place, she is looking to bring some more to the city and hopes to add more locations already in Woodland and North Park Elementariness and Radcliff City Park North.
“A lot has happened in the past six months,” she said. “I’m very happy that there seem to be a lot of people at Radcliff who want to get things done for the community. It’s just a matter of having the finances to do it.
Hales said what started as a “grassroots movement” to get this small library has turned into a larger business that is generating interest.
“My goal is to have more installed at Radcliff and it looks like more people are jumping on board,” she said. “I would like to get one in Saunders Springs, near the cabins. From there, I’m not sure where we’ll go. “
Hales said if anyone is interested in joining the effort to bring more small libraries to the city, she can be reached at 270-312-8941.
She is also in the process of creating a Facebook page, Radcliff Literacy Project, in an attempt to organize.