By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(June 21, 2018) Three years ago, then 7-year-old Ellie Zollinger asked the Berlin mayor and council for permission to open a Little Free Library at Dr. William Henry Park on Flower Street.
The library, part of a national “take a book, leave a book” nonprofit campaign, officially opened in October 2015.
Zollinger, now a little older and a little wiser, returned to Henry Park last Wednesday to restock the little wooden bookcase, roughly the size of a large mailbox, and to help reinvigorate the Little Free Library as a partnership with Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services.
“It feels really good to be helping the community. I really like it,” Zollinger said. “I started this because there is a Little Free Library at the Salisbury Zoo park and I wanted to make one here, because [children] can’t just walk to the library from here.”
She and her parents made the multicolored library box, painting it purple for her, yellow for her sister, and red for her brother.
“My favorite color at the time was purple, and my brother’s favorite color at the time and now is red, and my sister was a baby and we really didn’t know what her favorite color would be, so we made it yellow,” Zollinger said.
Asked how often she checks on the Little Free Library, Zollinger admitted, “We used to do it pretty frequently, but then I guess we got too busy.”
“We haven’t visited it in a long time. We kept meaning to,” she said.
Still, Zollinger’s efforts inspired her friends to contribute new and used books regularly, and also led to the partnership with Worcester Youth.
Youth Programs Coordinator Austin Piccarreta said she would involve both the Berlin Youth Club, and Strengthening Adolescent Girls with Education and Support (Sages) and Strengthening Adolescent Boys with Education and Resources (Sabers) programs.
“What we’re going to do is kind of monitor it and keep filling it with books throughout the year,” Piccarreta said. “We’re over here a lot and we’re going to be here in the summer with the BYC kids, so my goal is to really have Sabers and Sages overlook it pretty much throughout the school year, and to have the BYC kids take over during the summer.
“I’m hoping to spark more interest in reading,” she continued. “With this being readily available, they can give and take, and go back home and exchange books when they want to. It gives them the opportunity for family time, and it’s also a really good time for them to imagine stuff and learn to have time by themselves and calm down. So, it introduces a lot of different things. Reading is great for a multitude of reasons.”
Worcester Youth Executive Director Steven Taylor said the library is a great opportunity for children in the neighborhood to have access to books.
“The Berlin library can be a difficult thing to get to, especially for the young children, so this is a great opportunity to get some great books – some of them I’ve read myself when I was younger,” he said. “They’re great stories and it’s a great opportunity for kids, during the summer, to spend time reading, which is a great experience for them. I encourage kids to do that.”
Books for the Little Free Library can be donated in the lobby of Worcester Youth, downtown on 124 North Main Street, Suite C. Larger donations can be picked up.
For more information, call 410 641-4598 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Worcester Youth, visit www.gowoyo.org.