Little Free Library Uses Books To Breed Brotherhood

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When the late Todd Bol created the first Little Free Library in Hudson, WI, back in 2009, little did he know that roughly 90,000 neighborhood book exchanges would be created in 91 countries around the world including Italy, Brazil and Japan. Hicksville is the latest locale to feature this initiative that fosters a love of reading and builds communities via the volunteer swapping of books. Situated at the Parkway Community Church, this small, front-yard book exchange went up on May 7 and can accommodate anywhere from 25 to 30 books at a time.

The Little Free Library at Hicksville’s Parkway Community Church was opened for business on May 7.
(Photo courtesy of Kelly Pedone)


While the paint is barely dry on this weatherproofed, elevated replica schoolhouse, parishioners and neighbors have taken to it already, according to Pastor Ellen Balk.
“I couldn’t tell you how many people gave used it so far, but I know we’re gaining many books and people are already borrowing,” she said. “For being so new, I think it’s doing pretty well.”

Balk and co-pastor/husband Arik Balk were approached about this project by parishioners Kelly Pedone and Karen Iniguez.
“This is an idea Kelly and [Karen] have had for a couple of years, but nothing ever came of it,” Balk remembered. “Kelly approached us in February and said she and Karen would really love to build this and wanted to know if they’d be allowed to do that. It really was entirely Kelly and Karen that were looking for a project and they thought it was a great thing they could build that would not only serve our church, but the community. Our leadership approved it and it’s been Kelly and Karen the whole time.”

Aided by Iniguez’s husband Ivan, Kelly and Karen spent four weeks building the Little Free Library. Pedone admits the maintenance for it has required very little heavy lifting.
“I check the library each week just to make sure there is appropriate books for everyone to enjoy,” she said. “I’ve seen a variety of books being exchanged including fiction, nonfiction, dog training books, Bible stories and cookbooks.”

At roughly 100 parishioners strong, the Parkway Community Church, which is a Reformed Church of America (RCA) denomination, has grappled with how to navigate the pandemic. Since last August, this house of worship pivoted from online-only services to meeting in church and sanctuary while observing social distancing and mask mandates. Services were simultaneously streamed for parishioners not comfortable with worshiping in person. Balk feels the Little Free Library is a significant step towards helping parishioners and residents take another step towards some sense of normalcy.
“Our Little Free Library doesn’t just belong to us, it belongs to the whole community,” she said. “It’s our hope that this Little Free Library will bring a little more joy, a little more connection and a whole lot more books to our community.”

Visit www.parkwaycommunitychurch.org or call 516-938-1233 to learn more about the Parkway Community Church, which is located at 95 Stewart Ave. in Hicksville.

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