Little Free Libraries debut on three Durham Tech campuses, build community

Karen McPhaul, Senior Director of Instructional Technologies at Durham Tech, explores the first set of books donated to the new Little Free Library on main campus.

No library cards or late fees apply.

Students changing classes on three Durham Tech campuses may have noticed bright, new additions to their walk in recent weeks. In mid-June, Little Free Libraries opened their handcrafted doors to students, faculty, staff, and the community at large.

“Our hope is that everyone will be curious about the colorful libraries and the books within them,” said Julie Humphrey, Director of the Durham Tech Library. “Little Free Libraries promote the joy of reading, lifelong learning, and sharing.”

A unique facet to this project is that all three libraries were 100 percent built and designed by Durham Tech students. In March, students in Carpentry II were divided into three groups to design and build a little library to polish their woodworking skills and ultimately contribute to a sense of community on campus.

“I was so happy to hear about this project because it’s going to help the community as well as give us some skills,” said Ityra Robinson, student in Carpentry II. “I know my kids will be coming to Durham Tech one day so it’ll be great to point out the library and say, ‘Your mother helped make that!’”

After completing construction of the libraries, they were transferred across campus to the art studio where Durham Tech Fine Arts students donated their time between classes to paint three unique, original designs.

“I love that the libraries showcase our students’ talents and craftsmanship,” Humphrey said. “They are colorful, bright, cheerful, and welcoming — and celebrate creativity, the arts, and building trades.”

The Little Free Libraries movement began in 2009 when Todd Bol of Wisconsin built a wooden one room schoolhouse, filled it with books, and installed it in his front yard to pay tribute to his mother – a teacher who loved to read. The movement quickly grew and today there are more than 60,000 libraries worldwide.

“It’s very rewarding to be a part of a grassroots movement to encourage reading and literacy,” Humphrey said. “We hope members of the campus community take a book, read it, and pass it along to a family member, friend, or colleague, and eventually return it to the library.”

Funding from the Durham Tech Foundation helped offset the cost of supplies to make this project possible and book donations were collected from faculty and staff as starter books for each library. Donations will be accepted on an ongoing basis and can be dropped off at the library of each campus during normal operating hours.

The libraries are located on Durham Tech Main Campus, Orange County Campus, and Northern Durham Center.

“These libraries celebrate serendipity and the fun of discovering a new author, story, recipe, or idea,” Humphrey said. “You never know what you’ll find at the library on a particular day.”

Take a book, leave a book.

Enjoy these highlights of the little libraries from beginning to the end!

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