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Phil Campbell’s Little Free Library marks one year

A one-year celebration was planned for Phil Campbell’s Little Free Library March 21, but because of coronavirus safety measures regarding halting public gatherings, the event was canceled.

Phil Campbell’s Little Free Library was installed last year in Memorial Park. The grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony was held March 25, 2019, mostly in the First Baptist Church gym because of the threat of rain.

Andrea Hogan, librarian at Phil Campbell Elementary School, came up with the idea after seeing Little Free Libraries on trips with her mother, Rachel Trapp, the Northwest-Shoals Community College head librarian.

“Reading is so empowering,” Hogan said. “My great-grandmother was a library clerk for the Sheffield Public Library. Mom always made sure I participated in my book of the month club and took me to the Russellville Public Library when I was a kid. It’s very special to me to be able to share my love of reading in this way.”

Hogan’s cousin, Larry Lamb of Lamb Works Carpentry, built the library. He also cut and placed the glass that was originally in the door. Lamb’s wife, Jessica Lamb, did most of the painting and finishing.

“Unfortunately, we are having problems with vandals abusing the Little Free Library itself. We are currently trying to get a new door for it,” said Phil Campbell Councilwoman Lynn Fleming Landers. “I think the Little Free Library has been a wonderful addition to the park. You never know what might be in there at any given time. Being next to the playground, it’s very convenient.”

Landers said there are plans to get cameras put in the park, and she expressed a hope that taking this measure will put an end to the vandalism.

Hogan said the little library has been vandalized two or three times. The original glass in the door has now been replaced with plexiglass, and the latch was damaged. The city workers have the door right now, and they are going to fix it, but Hogan said it’s not certain when that will be completed.

Hogan said there’s now the additional factor of the need for extreme caution because of the spread of the coronavirus.

“I would have removed the books anyway, on account of that,” Hogan said. “The books will be sanitized before they are placed back into the library. This will not be done until the door is fixed and until it is also safe to resume such activities without the fear of potentially spreading the coronavirus.”

Those who sponsored the Little Free Library include the Phil Campbell City Council, Rachel Trapp, the Phil Campbell Study Club, Sherri Stancil, the Phil Campbell Drugstore, Jeania Norton, Mountain View Women’s Mission Union, Martha Farmer, Blue Door Bakery, Denise Hester, The Artsy Place, Andrea Hogan and Lamb Works Company.

Last year marked the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Little Free Library movement. Todd Bol created the first one, in Wisconsin, to look like a school in memory of his mother’s career as a schoolteacher.

Visit LittleFreeLibrary.org to search for official Little Free Libraries in other locations. Not all such structures are registered; however, those that are can be found with the online map. For anyone who might be interested in starting their own Little Free Library, information is available on the website.

The anniversary event celebrating Phil Campbell’s library might be rescheduled once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

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