Prairie Ridge Park in Huxley now has a Little Free Library, with an assortment of books available for reading.
Located on the west side of the park, the small, house-like structure sits on a wooden pole, filled with books ready for children and adults to read for free.
The Little Free Library organization began in 2009. According to the organization’s website, its mission is to "to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free-book exchanges worldwide" and "to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations." Its goal was to build 2,510 free, community libraries - matching the number of Carnegie libraries built by Andrew Carnegie. Since its inception, the organization has exceeded their goal, and the number of free libraries continues to increase. The Prairie Ridge Park Little Free Library is number 8,520 in the registry of Little Free Libraries around the globe. It is the second library of its kind to be located in Huxley - another Little Free Library is located at 306 Centennial Dr.
Cathy Van Maanen, program coordinator of the Huxley Public Library, said Prairie Ridge Park was chosen as a location for the free library because it is on the opposite side of town from the public library. Due to its location, many children who live on the southwest side of town may not make it to the public library very often because their parents are working, and if they were to walk to the library, they would have to cross Highway 69.
"This just puts the books closer to them," Van Maanen said.
Each Little Free Library has a steward who maintains the free library and is responsible for its upkeep. The Huxley library is the steward for the one at Prairie Ridge Park. Van Maanen said it was a "logical connection" for the public library to be the steward, because she wants children to have access to books and it is important for children to read.
While the Huxley library is the steward and provided the books to fill the Little Free Library, it is not responsible for continuing to fill the free library with books - that is up to the people in the surrounding neighborhood. Community members may take a book or two out of the library and replace those books with different books they want to share with their neighbors.
"Eventually, it will be taken over by the community," Van Maanen said. "Kids will take ownership in it and have enough pride in it to see that it’s used."
The free library was made possible by Raising Readers of Story County, Huxley Parks and Recreation Department and Huxley Public Library. It was built by Lowe’s and provided to the community by Raising Readers of Story County at no cost. It is designed to be weatherproof. The small door on the front swings up, rather than to the side, which will prevent gusts of wind from blowing it open and exposing the books to the elements.