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Organizations Join Forces for Little Free Library Countywide Project

WHEELING – A collaboration between The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, West Liberty University’s Kappa Delta Pi Education Honorary XI Chapter, the city of Wheeling’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Ohio County Virtual Lions Club, and Grow Warwood Pride will bring the joy of reading to Ohio County residents.

The effort is combining the use of newspaper boxes from The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register with volunteers from local organizations and local artists to create unique little free libraries throughout the county.

City of Wheeling Parks and Recreation Director Jesse Mestrovic has identified 60 locations for potential Little Libraries, and West Liberty University’s KDP local chapter, the Virtual Lions Club and Grow Warwood Pride are working to deliver boxes, raise funds for materials and books, and collect books to stock the libraries. The organizations are calling on local artists to submit their design for consideration on how to turn the newspaper boxes into little free libraries – either in a general location or for a specific area. The artist can even submit as part of an organization project. A committee comprised of representatives from each of these organizations will accept the applications, set up delivery of the boxes, and work to stock the boxes with books.

Grow Warwood Pride started the project with the young artists at Warwood Middle School; it can be found in front of Community Bank in Warwood, the former site of the Hillebrand Branch of the Ohio County Public Library. Joining forces with artists and organizations allows the project to take on a life beyond the one location and start a trend to spark interest in reading throughout the county.

“We are so excited that our little free library will be duplicated thanks to the work of many organizations and volunteers working together for our kids. The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register have been very generous in donating these depository boxes, which were constructed to withstand weather and be waterproof. We like to think of these completed projects as up-cycled, functional art that will encourage kids of all ages to get outside and read more. We’re hoping to have enough to implement a photo contest for kids or a library ‘passport’ to encourage children to visit all the locations throughout the county,” said Grow Warwood Pride President Julie Davis.

Perry Nardo, general manager of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, said the newspapers jumped on board immediately in supporting such a worthwhile project.

“We can think of no more worthwhile endeavor than to share the joy of reading with the residents of Ohio County,” Nardo said. “By repurposing our newspaper boxes, we will ensure that the books in the Little Libraries remain safe and dry and that they can be enjoyed by everyone. Being part of such a community-driven endeavor falls right in line with our goals as a community newspaper. We are very excited to see this moving forward.”

A free book sharing program and network, Little Libraries are designed to improve book access for all and also increase literacy rates. Little Libraries have the potential to inspire a love of reading and to create a culture that values reading.

The Kappa Delta Pi Education Honorary XI Chapter is a local chapter located at West Liberty University. The organization strives to promote literacy in the community. Those wishing to donate gently-used books to the Little Library collaborative project can contact KDP Faculty Advisor Angela Curfman via email at angela.curfman@westliberty.edu or contact the Ohio County Virtual Lions Club at ohiocountyvirtuallions@gmail.com or by calling 304-370-4902.

The goal, according to Grow Warwood Pride, is to eventually have more little free libraries than any other area. Lake Worth, Florida has 95 locations serving a slightly smaller number than Ohio County.

“It would be really great if this became a destination for day trips and got kids and families out seeing the great parks and destinations Wheeling and surrounding locations have to offer,” Mestrovic said.

Artists can view the complete list of potential sites online at bit.ly/LittleFreeLibraryLocations. Electronic submissions are preferred for those seeking to design a Little Library. They can be submitted at bit.ly/OhioCountyLittleFreeLibrary. Anyone wanting a specific site should submit an application promptly to prevent the site from being approved for another artist.

Submissions can also be submitted to ohiocountyvirtuallions@gmail.com or to the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, 51 16th St, Wheeling, WV 26003.

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