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Gainesville High students create Free Little Library
Gainesville High students add books to their recently completed community service project The Free Little Library at Wilshire Trails Park on Wednesday morning. From left, they are Areli Garcia, Jasmine Rucker, Quashia Peterson and Yasmeen Ali.

Gainesville’s newest library is a dream come true for many parents, with a collection of titles geared specifically to children and no late fees for overdue books.

In fact, users don’t have to return the books they choose to read at all.

The Free Little Library, a product of the Gainesville High School chapter of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, aims to encourage childhood literacy by providing free copies of children’s books at its location on the corner of Chestatee Road and Wilshire Drive in Gainesville.

Whittney McPherson, the chapter’s adviser, said that after taking runs through Wilshire Trails Park with her nutrition science class and seeing the number of children who played in the park, she knew it would be a perfect location for the library.

“We didn’t think as many children would have access to it if we put it at Gainesville High School, so we decided to put it next to the playground so more people could get to it,” McPherson said.

Readers can visit the library, which consists of a little green house with approximately 150 books in both English and Spanish, and take whatever copies they want without ever having to worry about returning them.

And because the library’s motto is to “take a book, leave a book, enjoy a book,” donations are always welcomed to increase the library’s stock. Books can be left at The Free Little Library or dropped off at Gainesville High School.

After starting its collection in September, the chapter received more than 250 books to start the library. Boxes were left in classrooms at Gainesville High, and one teacher donated her entire library of children’s books from her former elementary school classroom.

So far, the response has been overwhelming. The chapter stocked the library with 150 books this past Thursday, the “opening day” for the library, and found that 100 books had been taken over the weekend.

“When we were putting up the library, there were kids out here wanting to look at the books and see what was going on, so Areli (Garcia) read to them,” McPherson said.

Garcia, a Gainesville High student and chapter member, said the library’s focus and location was beneficial to children in more ways than one.

“Since this is right next to the playground, the kids are getting their exercise and being able to read. It’s exercising and education, so they go great together,” Garcia said.

Fellow classmate and chapter member Jasmine Rucker agreed.

“This is important because it’s teaching kids to learn to love books and know that their education is essential to life,” said Rucker.

Chapter members will continue to visit the library weekly to replenish the book supply.

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