Free Library Project Moving Toward Completion

SaddleBrooke Sunrise Rotary members and Hayden/Winkelman School District personnel celebrating the dedication of the Little Free Library for the community.

Gary Haslett

SaddleBrooke Sunrise Rotary has many ongoing projects, such as unloading food trucks at the Mammoth Food Bank, helping with the Golden Goose Midnight Madness Fridays, or refurbishing furniture for the veteran’s home in Tucson. One such project is the installation of Little Free Libraries in Mammoth, San Manuel, Hayden, and Oracle. It is part of the club’s overall goal of aiding in the literacy of the children in these communities.

Little Free Libraries are birdhouse looking structures that hold about fifty books for children preschool through eighth grade aged. The club has already installed libraries in Mammoth and San Manuel. The intent of having the libraries open and accessible to kids at any time of the day is a foundation of the project.

On May 6, SaddleBrooke Sunrise Rotary members, Jack Stebe (club president), Sherry Kaplan (Hayden project coordinator), Dick Kroese, and Gary Haslett traveled to Hayden to dedicate the library there.

Hayden Superintendent Jeff Gregorich, Winkelman Elementary School Principal Pam Gonzalez, along with several staff members, took time from their busy days to take part in the dedication.

Superintendent Gregorich said that funds for library books were practically non-existent in the district, and having the books provided was a blessing. Principal Gonzalez was very happy to have the library placed right outside the entrance to the cafeteria so kids can grab a book and begin reading anytime they want.

The last library in the project will be installed at Oracle in the fall, then that part of the literacy project will be done. However, it is an ongoing project as well. On a national level, the Little Free Library Association reports that about 20 to 25% of books do not get returned. That means there has to be constant monitoring and restocking of the libraries. That, in turn, requires a continual search for books. SaddleBrooke Sunrise Rotary has received books from community and family members and has purchased books with club funds as well as grant money. Committee members clean and check all donated books and then mark them for reading level before they go in the libraries. It is time consuming, but is a labor of love. Watching a young child reach into a library, pull out a book, and then actually hug it is priceless.

SaddleBrooke Sunrise Rotary is always looking for books in the preschool to eighth grade reading level to continue to restock their libraries. If you have any books that could be put to a great cause, contact Gary Haslett at 520-825-4442 or [email protected].