New little libraries up for discussion at next council meeting

If passed, five new little free libraries will be installed next spring at popular local spots.

New little libraries may be coming to popular spots in Homer next spring thanks to funding provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

An ordinance introduced during the Homer City Council Nov. 8 meeting would accept and appropriate a $25,000 American Rescue Plan Act grant provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the Homer Public Library, which would be split between purchasing and installing five little libraries in Homer and upgrading the library’s Wi-Fi equipment.

Homer Public Library Director David Berry said, if approved, the libraries will provide 24/7 access to free books around town, which will be supplied by the library and can be restocked by community members who want to donate. The libraries will be installed at Mariner Park, the Fishing Hole, Karen Hornaday Park, Bishop’s Beach and WKFL Park.

The little libraries are weather-proof stands with shelves of free books available for anyone to pick up or drop off for others to choose from, Berry explained.

“We don’t expect to ever get them back; they are just books that have been donated for spreading the joy of reading to the community,” Berry said.

If adopted, Ordinance 21-67 would allocate $5,950 for the little libraries program to purchase the cabinets and additional books to stock the libraries with. The Homer Public Library received the grant, Berry said, to help fill the needs of the library that the pandemic has brought to light.

“The Institute of Museum and Library Services is passing out grants to individual libraries to basically respond to COVID and overhaul their services in light of what COVID has demonstrated to us,” Berry said. “One of the lessons that we learned during COVID is that there are quite a few people who basically depend on physical access to the building to be able to come in and read, and if they can’t have that, like when we had to close our doors, then we need another way to get materials into their hands.”

The idea was originally suggested by the City of Homer Parks and Recreation, so the library is partnering with the department to place five little libraries at local parks and campgrounds. The parks department will be responsible for maintaining upkeep of the libraries.

Berry said he hopes the libraries will be ordered in December and will be installed later next spring once the ground has thawed out enough to plant the posts for the libraries to be attached to.

There are currently little libraries in front of the Homer Public Library and the Fritz Creek General Store.

In addition to the little libraries, the grant also provides more than $19,000 to upgrade the library’s Wi-Fi equipment and purchase 10 additional wireless hotspots, with a one-year data plan, for checkout.

The second hearing for Ordinance 21-67 will be Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. in the Cowles Council Chambers at City Hall.

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