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Librarian starts her own Little Free Library
P1110453 WEB
Holly Raus, a youth services staff member at the Cumming Library, started her own Little Free Library after seeing one on Canton Street in Roswell. - photo by Paul Dybas

CUMMING -- One librarian in Cumming does not have to go to work to check out books or share her favorite read with friends. She simply has to walk out her front door.

Holly Raus, a youth services staff member at the Cumming Library created a Little Free Library in her front yard as a way to engage her neighborhood and share her love of books.

These miniature libraries, which resemble a wooden bird or toy house, revolve around the “take a book, leave a book” concept, encouraging a rotating selection among neighbors’ preferences.

“It’s been well received. I see neighbors stopping by as they’re taking their walks, walking their dogs, pushing their strollers,” said Raus, who has worked at the Cumming Library for four years.

She said a priority for her is to ensure there are books for all ages in the little library. Adult fiction, sometimes non-fiction, classics, juvenile and teen fiction and “a lot of books for little ones, including even board books for babies. So there’s something for everyone.”

Raus said many of the neighborhood kids stop by often, so she has some Dr. Seuss bookmarks sitting next to the books.

“We have no homeowners association or community facilities, so I think it’s important to reach out to your neighbors. And you have to. If you just go about your own busy lives and you go in and out of your driveway, you don’t meet anyone. Especially when you’re a transplant to the area, you need to build that network of support.”

She asked her family to help her make one for a Christmas gift, she said. Her husband, Bob, bought her an unfinished house, painted it, glued each shingle on, added architectural embellishments, a picket fence.

“He even wallpapered the inside so it looks like a book-lined room with a hardwood floor in there,” she said. “My son bought me several copies of classic novels [her favorite] to start off the book rotation, and my daughter painted old bricks to look like books that I have placed in the small garden surrounding my library.”

She said she first noticed a Little Free Library on Canton Street in Roswell and began researching.

“I thought, wow, books! Because I love books, obviously,” she said.

The concept of a free miniature library started in Hudson, Wisconsin, in 2009 when Todd Mol built one in his front year in tribute to his mother, a school teacher who loved books, according to Laura Bradley, program manager for the Forsyth County Public Library system.

Raus’s husband, Bob, said he enjoys seeing his wife share her love with as many people as possible.

“Most people have to get up and go to work every day,” he said. “Holly gets to go to work every day.”