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Buckhead, Sandy Springs residents form community libraries
by Nicole Dow
June 25, 2014 01:20 PM | 1846 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Catherine Flynn, past president of Greystone Garden Club, and neighbor Joan Payton, who painted the library box, look through books available in the Little Free Library at Louise G. Howard Park.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Catherine Flynn, past president of Greystone Garden Club, and neighbor Joan Payton, who painted the library box, look through books available in the Little Free Library at Louise G. Howard Park.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Catherine Flynn, past president of Greystone Garden Club, left, helped to establish the Little Free Library at Louise G. Howard Park in the Collier Hills neighborhood which artist and neighbor Joan Payton, right, painted.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Catherine Flynn, past president of Greystone Garden Club, left, helped to establish the Little Free Library at Louise G. Howard Park in the Collier Hills neighborhood which artist and neighbor Joan Payton, right, painted.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Collier Hills neighbors Catherine Flynn and Joan Payton, who painted the library box, look through a book that was donated to the Little Free Library.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Collier Hills neighbors Catherine Flynn and Joan Payton, who painted the library box, look through a book that was donated to the Little Free Library.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / The Little Free Library, a Collier Hills neighborhood effort, was dedicated to deceased neighbor Tracy Downer at Louise G. Howard Park on Mother's Day.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / The Little Free Library, a Collier Hills neighborhood effort, was dedicated to deceased neighbor Tracy Downer at Louise G. Howard Park on Mother's Day.
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Special / Kissy Dabbs / The Dabbs family, of Sandy Springs, started the Mini Libraries Program using old magazine boxes to store children's books for community members to take as they please. The libraries are currently located in the lobbies of Ison Springs and Lake Forest elementary schools.
Special / Kissy Dabbs / The Dabbs family, of Sandy Springs, started the Mini Libraries Program using old magazine boxes to store children's books for community members to take as they please. The libraries are currently located in the lobbies of Ison Springs and Lake Forest elementary schools.
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Special / Kissy Dabbs / Clara Dabbs, 8, cleans off a used magazine box that she and her family repurposed to create a Mini Library.
Special / Kissy Dabbs / Clara Dabbs, 8, cleans off a used magazine box that she and her family repurposed to create a Mini Library.
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To help spread the love of reading to their neighbors, residents in Buckhead and Sandy Springs have created community libraries where users can take books for free without worrying about returning them.

In the Collier Hills neighborhood of Buckhead, resident Melissa Libby helped spearhead the installation of a Little Free Library at Louise G. Howard Park. Little Free Libraries are a “take a book, return a book” movement that started in Wisconsin in 2009.

The library itself is a two-tiered box set up on a post with adult books on the top level and children’s books on the lower level.

“People donate books to get it started,” Libby said. “The idea is if you’re out taking a run or walking through the park with your kid in a stroller, you can just take a take a book out. And if you have a book at your house that you loved and you don’t want it anymore, then you put the book in.”

The library opened May 11 and was dedicated to Tracy Downer, a former neighbor who was killed in a car crash two years ago.

“She had two little kids, and she loved to read,” Libby said.

The location of the library post is in a pavilion area of the park, also dedicated to Downer, which was formed by local members of the Greystone Garden Club.

Libby said in the first month of the library’s existence, it has been put to good use.

“At first I thought no one’s using it, but then I started looking at the titles and I realized the titles were changing,” she said.

Sandy Springs resident Kissy Dabbs and her daughters Liza, 7, and Clara, 8, decided they wanted to open community libraries after hosting a children’s book swap in their basement last summer for neighbors and friends.

“We really want all of the kids in our community to become familiar with books, to have them in their homes, to enjoy them, to re-read them,” Dabbs said.

Teaming up with the Sandy Springs Education Force, a nonprofit that supports public schools and students, the Dabbs family started a Mini Libraries Program. They found used magazine boxes on Craigslist, which they repurposed to house the stocks of children’s books that range from board books for preschoolers to chapter books for fifth-graders.

The libraries, which opened in mid-May, are located in the lobbies of Ison Springs and Lake Forest elementary schools in Sandy Springs. Users are encouraged to take up to two books, and they can keep them for their home libraries or share them with others, Dabbs said. She said the program has been a success so far.

“We only have campers coming in [the school buildings] and then people coming in for testing and registration, and we’ve distributed over 700 books,” Dabbs said.

Each week, she and her daughters – and sometimes their friends – replenish the stock using books from their home collection or donations.

While this is a pilot program, Dabbs said she has six more library boxes ready to go and families lined up to sponsor the libraries.

“Initially the idea was that we really wanted this to be a summer supplement, but … I think we are going to ask to keep them in there year-round,” she said.

Dabbs said she would like to see the program expand with more Spanish-language and bilingual books, regular story-time sessions and opportunities for children to write book reports and have them published in a newsletter.

Community libraries can be found at the following locations:

Louise G. Howard Park: intersection of Collier Road and Overbrook Drive, Buckhead

Ison Springs Elementary School: 8261 Ison Road, Sandy Springs

Lake Forest Elementary School: 5920 Sandy Springs Circle, Sandy Springs

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