Outside of the Jerry Thomas Elementary School is a structure that kind of looks like a combination of a mailbox and birdhouse. But, this blue box is neither. It’s a Little Free Library.
The miniature library, on the corner of Maplewood and Toney Penna drives, serves as a free book exchange where the idea is for a person to take a book and replace it with a different book. The Jerry Thomas library was bought by the PTO and had a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 1.
“I got to the ceremony maybe 15 minutes early and people were already using it,” said Henrick Laursen, the branch director of the Jupiter Library. “There were five or six students grabbing books.”
This was Laursen’s first event as director of the Jupiter Public Library. He started his new role the same week as the ribbon cutting and wanted to show his support for the program, which is supposed to encourage children to read over the summer. Laursen said he thinks the Little Free Libraries are a great idea and enjoyed the vibe from the community.
“The community seemed to love the Little Free Library,” said Laursen. “I think they were very excited about it.”
Others at the ceremony were Vice Mayor Councilor Ron Delaney, Councilor Ilan Kaufer, Jerry Thomas Elementary Principal Jeff Eassa, Assistant Principal Kristen King and Nancy Heilner of Jerry Thomas Elementary PTO.
“It was wonderful to be at the opening of the first little free community library in Town of Jupiter last week,” Kaufer wrote on his official Facebook page Monday. “Great to see the kids love of reading!!”
This is the first of many free libraries that’ll be popping up in Jupiter. The town plans to install eight throughout the community including at the Community Center, El Sol, Pine Gardens North and South, and Indian Creek Park.
The specific addresses won’t be announced until the information is finalized, said Alessandra Tasca, neighborhood services programs specialist.
But Ashley Shipman, a recreation specialist for the town, has been working on one of the libraries and had some details.
“Our library is 50 percent complete,”said Shipman about the library that will be at the Community Center. “It will be a re-creation of the Jupiter Lighthouse.”
The Community Center asked a student from Jupiter High School to design its library and Shipman said the student put in over 30 hours of work on it.
“It looks amazing,” said Shipman. “The student did such a good job.”
The Little Free Library project has been a work in progress since December, with the Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department working with members of the Town’s Art Committee and the community.
“This project has taken a little bit longer than expected,” said Shipman. “But once it’s complete it’s going to be great.”
The town will start collecting books when the libraries are close to completion.
The Little Free Libraries program is a nonprofit that has more than 700,000 libraries worldwide. The organization’s goal is to inspire a love of reading, build community and spark creativity, according to the organization’s website.
Jupiter will register its libraries with the organization so people can track them online. In the meantime, there are Little Free Libraries throughout Palm Beach County. And, it looks like there are already four in Jupiter besides the one at Jerry Thomas Elementary. To find the nearest Little Free Library to you, go to the organization’s website at www.littlefreelibrary.org.