Matoaca Village receives its first Little Free Library

“It’s a ‘take a book, return a book’ gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share,” according to www.littlefreelibrary.org.

A Little Free Library has found a home in the village of Matoaca. The Matoaca Woman’s Club dedicated the Little Free Library last Friday to Marguerite Cole, a veteran retired teacher of 37 years who fostered the love of reading to many of her students. For their community, the club wanted to bring neighbors and readers together to share their favorite books. When it was time for the dedication, 94-year-old Cole was surprised to look out her front door and find a box full of books and a bench to sit and enjoy a moment of adventure in her front yard.  

Her initial response was “Wow.” Adding, “I have been more than rewarded in every way.” Her family donated the area in the front yard of their 1842 circa family home located on River Road in the village for the Little Free Library.

Brenda Austin, president of the Woman’s Club along with Kathy Vaughan, who proposed the idea to the club, helped Cole unveil the Little Free Library. “This is such an exciting day for me,” said Austin. “It is such community spirit to be able to honor one of its beloved citizens.”  Austin share her time of volunteering at Matoaca Elementary and her fondest memories were of Cole sitting in a chair with her first-graders listing to a story. “She fostered the love of reading.”

Cole said she watches people coming and going all the time from her front window and said the little free library is accessible to all the people within walking distant in Matoaca. “We never had a public library in Matoaca,” she said speaking of a library in the village. Cole was the first to choose a book. An avid reader, she loves mystery/comedy novels said her daughter, Charlene Pritchett. Pritchett said the little free library was in a perfect spot.

“She can see it from her window and the street light shines on it,” she said. “She also likes the idea that it is under the school sign. That was the first thing she noticed.”

Vaughan first saw a Little Free Library while visiting a sick friend in North Dakota. “I knew the Woman’s Club would love the project,” she said. She was overjoyed with the completion of the project but sad, too.  “I think of my friend. She didn’t make it this spring, but I will think of her every time with this.”

Dave Austin built the box for the Little Free Library and Billie Wills, portrait artist, painted and drew the art. The plaque reads, “Erected and maintained by Matoaca Woman’s Club in honor of Marguerite H. Cole Veteran Teacher and Reading Advocate.”

The first Little Free Library was created by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, who built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading.  He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard.  

Anyone can start a Little Free Library. A neighborhood association, service club, school, non-profit or local government can lead the way. In January of this year, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries in the world was conservatively estimated to be nearly 15,000, with thousands more being built. To register your Little Free Library, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org.

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