Dream Island gains its own little library | SteamboatToday.com

Dream Island gains its own little library

Zoe Walsh For Steamboat Today
Johnny Walker stands next to the Free Little Library he built for Dream Island. The project is the first little library in Steamboat Springs sponsored by Bud Werner Memorial Library. Photo: Matt Stensland

The first official, library-sponsored Little Free Library celebrated its grand opening Tuesday, Oct. 17 in Dream Island. The library features books in both English and Spanish for all ages and reading levels.

The project started in the summer, when Sarah Kostin, youth services librarian at Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs, was planning the summer reading program. She listened to an NPR program on the popularity of Little Free Libraries and was immediately drawn to the concept.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that was created to inspire a love of reading and to build community by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world. As of November 2016, there were over 50,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 countries around the world. In Steamboat, there are now seven little libraries scattered throughout town.

Kostin approached Johnny Walker, a volunteer carpenter who had done work for the library, about the newest Free Little Library project, and Walker agreed to build the tiny library.

"Ideas like that are just too good to stop," Walker said.

Walker built the three-foot tall structure out of wood with a steep-pitched, shake-shingled roof and a plexiglass door where books can be dropped off and picked up. The outside of the tiny library is decorated with small rocks and Scrabble tiles.

Kostin and Walker sought community input on where to place the library, and they were quickly directed to Rosemary Mendenhall, Dream Island's new manager. Once they met, the inspired trio realized Dream Island was the perfect place for the a free book exchange.

"Having a little library in this community just makes sense," Mendenhall said.

To Mendenhall, the little library is a perfect launching pad for the process of further integrating Dream Island into the Steamboat community. Additionally, the pleasant appearance of the library adds to the beautification process currently underway in the neighborhood located just west of the library on Lincoln Avenue.

"I've been trying for years to get people from Dream Island to come to the library," Kostin said.

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She is confident that the Little Free Library is a great way to foster that relationship by bringing books to the community rather than forcing the community to come to the books.

"Not everybody wants a library card," Kostin said.

The library is aptly named "Little Buddy's Branch," and to Mendenhall, it symbolizes Dream Island's bright future.

"We're just getting started," she added.

Zoe Walsh is serving as an intern at the Steamboat Today this semester as part of Steamboat Springs High School’s internship program.