Stimulating the joy of reading: Retired librarian used stimulus check to build a Little Free Library
Thu., May 5, 2022
Cis Hyndman used her stimulus check to start the Brookfield Little Lending Library in the commons area of her Brookfield Estates housing development. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)Buy a print of this photo
When schools closed during the pandemic, retired Freeman School District librarian Cis Hyndman worried about how kids in her neighborhood would access books.
“There was a co-op of kids being home-schooled and they had recess in the common area across the street,” she said. “I wondered what they were reading.”
Hyndman retired in 2018 after a 31-year career as a school librarian, but she wasn’t a bookworm as a kid.
“If you would have told me I’d become a librarian, I would have laughed my head off,” she said.
But as a young mom, she fell in love with reading and wound up spending her career introducing books to kids.
“I’ve always had a heart for kids who didn’t have a place to go,” Hyndman said. “The library is a safe place and books offer such an escape.”
She organized book clubs for her students and hosted more than 50 Scholastic Book Fairs.
“During COVID, my heart was still aching for my job,” she said.
“There’s nothing more thrilling than connecting a child to a book and seeing that a-ha moment when they can’t wait to come in to tell you what they’ve read.”
The Hyndmans donated their first stimulus check to their church, but Hyndman had a plan when the second arrived.
“I decided to put up a Little Free Library,” she said.
After receiving permission, Hyndman’s husband, Bill, built and installed the library in March 2021, in the common area where the kids played.
“Then I hit up my bookselling friends,” Hyndman said.
She wanted the free library to be more than just a take-one, leave-one venue and was interested in discovering what kind of books people in her neighborhood enjoyed. She printed up request cards and left them in the library. Users can check their favorite genres and list their favorite authors. The back of the card can be used for requests or comments.
She pulled a couple of cards from her desk to share what kids had written.
“I love this book box,” said one.
Another read, “I love the book house!”
Readers of all ages use the free library. Hyndman relished the connection with her neighborhood, but she saw even more opportunities for community.
“I wanted to connect to other free libraries in our neighborhood,” she said. “I started knocking on doors where I saw libraries.”
Her idea was to expand the free libraries’ collections by collaborating and sharing resources.
She created the South Hill Free Librarian page on Facebook and posted videos of short interviews with Little Free Library hosts.
It soon morphed into a site where folks can share their favorite authors and dish on their latest reads. The connection keeps their free libraries stocked.
“This has kept my heart pretty full,” Hyndman said. “It’s been a joy for me.”
South Hill Free Librarian is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/shfreelibrarian.
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