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A Little Library of Literature and Learning

Little Free Libraries can be found in many areas of Mid-South Synergy’s service territory, making them easily accessible to our members

In honor of International Literacy Day on September 8, we paid a visit to a Mid-South Synergy member in Iola who is doing her part to encourage learning and imagination in the youths of rural Grimes County.

For Shannon Goetz, reading with her children, Carson and Wendy, isn’t just a pastime. It’s a true passion. Goetz’s enthusiasm for storybooks began when she and her husband, Stacy, had just started a family in Abilene—a city that has fashioned itself as the Storybook Capital of America and hosts the annual Children’s Art and Literacy Festival. Inspired by the city’s embrace of children’s literature, the couple became immersed in authors like Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle.

Literacy can open a world of imagination and adventure in a young person’s life if he or she is given the opportunity.

“I think I really took a love for children’s literacy after our firstborn, Carson,” Goetz said. “Abilene started promoting children’s art and literacy around the same time, which helped me as a mom learn the importance of it for my children’s development. Literacy can open a world of imagination and adventure in a young person’s life if they’re given the opportunity. Reading to my children daily and enjoying the events with art and crafts, which are geared towards children’s books, are fun [and] provide bonding moments and memories.”

One of the many community traditions the Goetz family brought with them when they moved to Iola was a fondness for the Little Free Library program, an initiative to encourage free book exchanges.

“We loved to visit them as a family back in Abilene,” Goetz said. “We had always discussed as a family designing and making a [Little Free Library] and establishing it in front of our home.”

Goetz’s husband was the carpenter and creator of their Little Free Library in Iola. He completed it March 2, Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

“We painted it red for the vibrant color of love,” Goetz said. “We love literacy and art, and the thought of placing a book in a child’s hand is something we love to do. This project was something we as a family felt was a need to help give access to books in our community and felt inspired to see it through.”

She had advice for anyone else considering building a Little Free Library.

“My biggest tip would be to make it welcoming to the community and family-friendly,” she said. “Don’t just put a library up and not maintain it. More often than not, free little libraries are put up and not maintained.”

Goetz encourages interacting with the people who use the book exchange.

“The one thing I enjoy is to get to know the people that stop by and help them find books they feel inspired to read,” she said. “We created a ‘summer reading passport’ to help invite families of our community to take advantage of the opportunity this Little Free Library offers. Each week, the children are encouraged to come back and trade out the books they borrowed or share others from their own home libraries and do a craft or activity related to the book theme of the week.”

Little Free Libraries can be found in many areas of Mid-South Synergy’s service territory, making them easily accessible to our members. The Montgomery County Memorial Library System currently lists eight of its own Little Free Library installments in and around Montgomery County. The city of Navasota also has little libraries dispersed throughout town in its effort to promote learning and imagination to the children of the community.