Residents and visitors to South Bethany no longer have to travel to neighboring communities to enjoy the offerings of a library. Last week, the town’s Free Little Library was installed on Evergreen Road, near town hall, welcoming community members to enjoy free books at their leisure.
“This idea was brought to the Community Enhancement Committee by one of our members, Lori Cicero,” said Councilwoman Sue Callaway, who chairs the committee.
Cicero said she had seen similar little libraries over the last few years, and thought the concept would work well for the town.
“I walk my dog at Northside Park and saw it again last year. I thought, you know, this would be a nice thing for the community.”
The concept is, provide a box somewhere in a community, where books may be taken or shared free of charge.
“It’s supposed to be take a book or leave a book… or not. But they’re there to take,” she said. “It’s like a service to the community.”
Cicero brought the idea to the Community Enhancement Committee (CEC), where it was embraced, and fellow committee member Pat Weisgerber volunteered her husband’s woodworking skills for the job.
“I volunteered him, and he did the rest of the work,” she said. “I thought, ‘He can do that.’ He likes to work with wood, and he has the tools and the wood, so why not?”
“The first thing I did after I was volunteered was I Googled ‘little libraries’ because I didn’t want to build a new mousetrap, which led me to the website,” said Frank Weisgerber of the site at www.littlefreelibrary.org. “I saw it was a worldwide effort and was pretty impressed with it. I contacted Sue and said, ‘How about we become a member of this organization?’”
Weisgerber said the website had close to 15,000 pictures of little libraries all over the world, which gave him ideas about how to design the town’s.
“In Delaware, there are a couple,” he said. “We went and looked at the one in Rehoboth to get a feel for it and see how high we wanted to put it.”
Through littlefreelibraries.org, the Town was able to register its own little library, which will so have a plaque displaying its registration number, and be placed on the site’s library map.
Weisgerber said he constructed the little library in an Amish shed style to help keep moisture at bay, thus prolonging the life of the books.
“With the shed design, the roof is one solid piece so it won’t leak, where with an A-frame ones you’d have to worry about where the joints are,” he explained. “Thinking that we’re putting books in this, we wanted to make sure we kept the inside free of moisture.”
Weisgerber said that the little library is constructed out of cypress wood, which is not only beautiful but functional.
“One of the things I was after was our maintenance guys have enough to do — I didn’t want them to worry about taking care of it,” he said. “The wood is naturally insect repellant and weathers real well.”
The salvaged cypress was purchased at Eric Clark’s Got Wood in Millsboro.
“It’s a father-son sawmill, and they salvage from different places. They had just salvaged some cypress and cut the planks down for me.”
Weisgerber said the little library took approximately eight to 10 hours to build.
“We’re tickled with it,” he said. “It came out really well. I’m really pleased with it.”
The wood and labor the Weisgerber’s donated to the Town, because they believed the program would have a positive impact on their community.
“It’s a place for people to socialize, meet other homeowners, and get an opportunity to talk to vacationers,” he said. “You read a book and enjoy it, you like to share it with someone else, rather than just put it on a shelf,” he said. “If you see something you think you’d like, take it. If you have something you think someone else would enjoy, leave it.”
The little library holds about two dozen books, offering community members everything from kids’ stories to thrillers.
“It does create a place for people to gather. So it’s just another way for neighbors to get to know each other and see another idea in their town that’s positive and creates a sense of community,” said Callaway.
Now that it’s installed, Cicero, who is the steward of the library, will be maintaining the books.
“I’m going past every day, straightening them,” she said, adding that the library has been used quite often since its installation. “The first day, there was activity, which is great.”
Mayor Pat Voveris said the project was just another endeavor of the CEC and the town’s large volunteer community.
“It’s all volunteerism,” she said. “You have people who are committed to improving and engaging the community. There’s a lot of thought that goes behind it. How we’re unique is in our owners and residents. It’s the people that come up with these ideas. It’s a wonderful thing.”
Voveris herself donated 42 books to the little library and is happy that it has been so well received by residents and visitors.
“I think we have a lot of readers in town, so the idea is we’ll keep it plentiful.”
“I’m hoping if the renters come and don’t have something to read, now they’ll have something,” added Cicero.
At the dedication ceremony, Voveris thanked those involved in the project for giving back to their community in the best way.
“Thanks for enhancing our enjoyment, our intellect and our communication,” she said. “To me this is a great small-town project. To me this is what volunteerism is all about. I’m very proud this is what we’re doing for our community.”
For more information about the Little Free Library, visit