Bev Armstrong cuts the ribbon to open Manti’s first “Little Free Library,” an initiative designed to provide neighborhood access to free books. (From left) Beatrice Ludwig, held by Hannah Haderlie; Anna Dickinson; Ella McGill; Seth McGill, and Matti McGill watch at the opening, while Bob Armstrong (behind) cheers the event.

 

Armstrongs open “Little Free Library”

 

Clara Hatcher

Staff Writer

6/15/2017

 

MANTI—A Manti couple have adopted a new approach to books that is gathering popularity around the world.

Part pay-it-forward, part honor system, Manti’s first “Little Free Library” has officially (if somewhat informally) opened in front of the home of Bev and Bob Armstrong at 465 S. 200 West.

“We wanted to make it available,” Bev Armstrong said. “There are a lot of kids in the neighborhood that could benefit.”

It’s a concept that is almost novel in its simplicity. “You take a book to read it and then return it,” Bev said.

But it’s a little more forgiving and generous than a normal late-return-fine library.

The library operates on a take-and-return basis. Because the program is internationally known, a book can be read in one city and returned in another.

You can even keep a book “if you really love it,” Bev Armstrong said, “but you’ll have to donate in its place.”

Bev said that the couple has had the idea to open the library for nearly a year. She heard about the program through a summer reading initiative with the Cub Scouts.

With having seven kids, Bob Armstrong said, their house was always getting more books. From the piles of the books in their home, the Armstrong’s can now provide reading material for both kids and adults.

Books are sorted on three shelves by reading level. At the library’s opening, Ella McGill, 9, reached for a copy of “Nancy Drew.” Barbara Oliver, Beverly Armstrong’s mother, opted for “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”

“It’ll be fun,” Kristina Jorgensen, who lives across the road from the library, said. “Any excuse to help my kids read is great.”

The goal, Bev Armstrong said, is to encourage kids in the neighborhood to read more, and to provide a place for that to happen. The Little Free Library organization provides ideas and support for people who want to open a new library, and for library owners who need help with maintenance or vandalism.

“I don’t think there is a better friend than a book,” Bob Armstrong said. “We will be taking book donations and just keep filling it up.”