Venetia neighborhood school gets new outdoor library

Venetia neighborhood school gets new outdoor library
Venetia Elementary School Principal Jennifer Collins, far left, with the Venetia Book Club at the ribbon cutting for two new Little Free Libraries at the school: Susan Griffith, Bettye Jo Clemons, Lynda Andrews, Leighton Tesche, Dorothy Marsh, Bon Martens, Sara Heath, Linda Hunter, Mary Krause.

There’s probably nothing more natural for a book club to do than to promote reading outside its own circle. That’s just what the 7-year-old Venetia Book Club did when they decided to install not one, but two Little Free Libraries at Venetia Elementary School.

Linda Hunter, a member of the club and 30-year resident of Venetia said she acquired a newspaper box from the Florida Times-Union, and when she stopped at Ortega Paint and Decorating to check out paints, the staff there said someone else in the community was also building a Little Free Library.

“John Hamilton had started one, but he didn’t like what he did and threw it away,” said Hunter, who used to do woodworking with her father. The two teamed up to create two library boxes, but didn’t always agree on everything. “He’s into structure and I’m into aesthetics,” said Hunter.

“We agreed 99 percent of the time and had a lot of fun doing it,” said 85-year-old Hamilton, whose taller Little Free Library will house adult books while the lower newspaper box will hold books for children.

The community project was supported with donations by Ortega Paint and Decorating, Builders First Source, Baker Glass, and the Venetia Book Club, which donated books and funds to buy cedar shingles for the adult library and to register the boxes with Little Free Library. Artwork on the children’s box was done by Sara Heath.

After the boxes were installed at the school, a ribbon-cutting was held April 3 by the Venetia Book Club. According to Principal Jennifer Collins, the library boxes were deliberately not erected near the sidewalk, which parallels Timuquana Road. “There’s too much traffic on the road. We want people to pull into the school and park in front,” she said.

The neighborhood will serve as book stewards, replenishing the boxes, and checking to make sure the books in the children’s box are appropriate, said Hunter.

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