In 2014, United Way installed 26 Little Free Libraries in Whitfield and Murray counties. These "take a book, leave a book" structures are just big enough to hold 20-30 books, creating access to reading material across the community.
Built with recycled or natural materials, designed, decorated by, and watched over by volunteers, each little "habitat for the humanities" turns over its collection several times a month. Little Free Libraries is a global initiative with more than 10,000 installed worldwide.
One of the unique concepts is that no one can steal the books because the books are "free"--freely given by neighbors from their own collections, used bookstores, authors and others who love the sense of community that the Little Libraries create. The idea is to promote literacy and community-building by supporting book exchanges.
The purpose of these libraries is to provide a place where all readers in the community can share books throughout the year. Participants can leave books to share with others in the box and take a book they would like to read. Volunteers will check boxes to make sure there are always books available.
The United Way collection of Little Free Libraries will be pinned to the national map, littlefreelibraries.org, by GPS coordinates. United Way’s website, ourunitedway.org, will also pin each site to a map.
Several partners helped launch the project. Carey Mitchell, who is retired from Shaw Industries, maximized the supplies budget by laying out a cost effective supply list for the libraries. He recruited Gary Asbury with Professional Testing Laboratory to build the libraries, along with Howard Elder, who is retired from J&J Industries. Jim Gordon built the first prototype and Carey Mitchell has since built two more.
United Way gained approval for installation of the libraries at park locations from Mike Babb, Whitfield County; Steve Card, Dalton Recreation; Dan Penland, City of Chatsworth; and Brittany Pittman, Murray County.
United Way also partnered with the Beta Phi Chapter of the honorary teacher sorority Alpha Delta Kappa to include their Book Barn, installed in November 2013 in Chatsworth, as part of the project. Lowe’s donated over $600 to the effort by selling supplies at cost. In addition, Kathy Mashburn, a local author, is donating a portion of proceeds from sales of her books to United Way Little Free Library project as well as donating several copies of her book Feeding Piggy.
United Way Little Free Library Sites:
VD Parrott Junior Park
Civitan Park (Harlan Godfrey Park)
Heritage Point Park
Carpet City Rotary Park
Joan Lewis Park
Al Rollins Park
Mack Gaston Community Center
Otis Cook Memorial Tree Park, 800 Parkway Drive
Dalton Green in downtown Dalton
James Brown Park
Veterans Park - located at the intersection of Mitchell Street and Veterans Avenue