Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

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June 8, 2014

Effingham woman sets up Little Free Library

EFFINGHAM — Mystery novel enthusiast Ruth Buening has created somewhat of a mystery at her Austin Street home that has neighbors curious.

“I have had people ask if this is a birdhouse or a mailbox in the middle of our yard,” said the Effingham resident. “Yesterday, a neighborhood boy walked up and looked in it just to see what it was.”

The freestanding object in her yard is neither, but rather a Little Free Library, which as the name suggests, offers free books for residents to take.   

“People have asked me, ‘What if someone steals a book?’” said Buening. “You can’t steal something if it is free. People are just encouraged to put in some old books of their own.”

The box is full of mystery novels by authors such as Agatha Christie and John Grisham, along with several children’s titles. Little Free Libraries have been popping up around the area, with 10 currently located in Stewardson and one by Teutopolis Village Hall.

The Little Free Library phenomenon started five years ago in Hudson, Wisconsin, when Todd Bol built the first library box. Bol created the Little Free Library as a gift to his mother, a retired school teacher who loves to read. The idea spread first by word of mouth and grew quickly through the media. According to www.littlefreelibrary.org, there are 15,000 Little Free Library sites around the world.

Buening’s children built the library box for her as a Christmas present and this past weekend set it in the yard she has shared with husband Jim for the past 35 years.

Buening hopes people will share her passion for literature.

“I come from a long line of readers,” she said. “I just love books.”

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