More ‘little libraries’ popping up around Portsmouth

Library installs one at playground, another going in at Bristol Ferry

By Jim McGaw
Posted 5/27/22

PORTSMOUTH — Is there a little free library near you?

Portsmouth has a small but growing number of these tiny free lending libraries — basically free-standing cupboards that are …

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More ‘little libraries’ popping up around Portsmouth

Library installs one at playground, another going in at Bristol Ferry

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Is there a little free library near you?

Portsmouth has a small but growing number of these tiny free lending libraries — basically free-standing cupboards that are strategically placed in local neighborhoods. Visitors are encouraged to take a book, and share a book.

Now the Portsmouth Free Public Library (PPL) has gotten into the game, donating a little library that was recently installed at the entrance to the Island Park Playground on Ormerod Avenue. And, on May 23, the Town Council granted permission to a resident to install one on the Bristol Ferry Town Common.

The idea of PPL putting up a little library first came from Board of Trustees member Ann McDonald, and she and fellow trustee Jackie Shearman spearheaded the project, according to Carolyn Magnus, library director.

“(McDonald) had seen them in Washington around her daughter’s neighborhood and said, ‘We should have one around here,’” said Shearman. 

Shearman’s neighbor, master craftsman Paul Shoenbucher, built the little library, which bears a striking resemble to its bigger sibling.

“Carolyn gave him a drawing of the library with the curved windows. It’s really cute,” said Shearman.

The Department of Public Works installed the little library. “We picked Island Park because there are a lot of kids and other people around that area, so they can keep an eye on it,” she said.

PPL’s little library was seeded with items from its Book Nook, which accepts donations from residents that are then sold to the public for cheap, with all proceeds going back to the library. Now it’s up to neighbors and other visitors to keep the little library going.

On May 23, the Town Council voted unanimously to grant local resident Kerry Tyson’s request to install a little free library on the Bristol Ferry Town Common, near her home. Her idea had previously been approved by the Bristol Ferry Town Common Commission.

The little library will be placed near the concrete bench on the side of the Common where a new shed for the Rail Explorers is located.

Another new little library recently popped up on Cliff Avenue at the Hummocks. You can find others at the following locations: Outside the CFP Arts, Wellness, and Community Center on Anthony Road; Baker Road; Woodland Drive; Hummocks Point Avenue; and the intersection of Potomac Road and Water Street. (If we missed any, drop us a line at jmcgaw@eastbaymediagroup.com.)

Shearman said the little libraries are a great way to spread the joy of reading while also reducing waste.

“It’s a way to keep people reading and recycling. If there’s something you don’t want, you put it in. If there’s something you like, you take it out,” said Shearman, while volunteering at the Book Nook last Thursday.

Book Nook going strong

She laughed when asked if board members were concerned that the little library might be competing against the Book Nook.

“That was brought up, but it’s not. I think they can travel in tandem, and we’re doing very well,” she said.

The Book Nook charges visitors $1 per hardcover title, 50 cents per softcover, CD or DVD. Children’s books are three for $1, and donated magazines are free.

“Now we’re getting all the books from the (Naval) War College,” she said. “They leave, and they bring them here. We get a lot of aviation books. We have a young adult section, a middle-school aged, and a children’s section.”

The Book Nook replaced the library’s twice-a-year book sales.

“Those were a lot of work for not as much reward,” Shearman said. “But this has been very good. We even have people come in from other libraries. There’s a man who comes in from Providence and he’s travels to all the libraries for their little book stores and he said this is the best.”

2022 by East Bay Newspapers

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.