Free library

By Bob Balgemann


BOONE COUNTY – Opportunities for the young, old, and in between to read a good book are springing up all over Boone County.

The most recent location for the Little Free Library is outside Poplar Grove Village Hall, located at 200 Hill St., at the walking path. It is the gift of Madeline Walberg, who worked for 23 years at the Ida Public Library in Belvidere. She said she knows “how important it is for kids to read, especially those who live in the country.”

“It’s a great location,” she said of the village hall site. “Kids can walk to it.”

A friend of hers built the little house and so far she has been supplying the books, mostly hard cover editions, for children. A few books of interest to adults also have been placed in the little building, but she stressed, “I really want it to be for children.”

She said she buys books from the Ida library.

“Now that the weather is improving I will go to garage sales,” she said. “Anywhere I can get them.”

The idea is for youngsters to take a book out of the building, read it, return it, and take another one.

“I am very enthusiastic about the project,” she said, adding that Poplar Grove Village Administrator Diana Dykstra, who has two children, also would like to contribute books to the building.

The national Little Free Library program was launched in 2009, with a focus on literacy and the love of reading.

Perry Elementary School was the first in the Belvidere School District 100 to have such a library. It was dedicated on the first day of the 2014-2015 school year, with a large turnout on the front lawn of the historic, neighborhood school.

Then-Superintendent Michael Houselog attended the ceremony, which was organized by Principal Jody Dahlseng.

Amanda Bianchi, 6 at the time and a first grader at Perry, was chosen to cut the red ribbon circling the little building.

Other District 100 schools now have such libraries, including Meehan Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, and Washington Academy. Manchester Elementary and Capron Elementary in North Boone School District 200 also have one.

More recently a Free Little Library building was placed outside Jefferson Prairie Lutheran Church at Illinois 76 and Wisconsin Route 140, near the Illinois-Wisconsin line.

Other Boone County Free Libraries include one in Garden Prairie, on in Capron Trailer Park, and one in Poplar Grove Trailer Court.

There are summer reading programs in both Districts 100 and 200. State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, also has one. It is for children in the House District 69, which takes in the vast majority of Boone County.

At the end of the summer, he treats the young participants to an ice cream social. This will be the sixth year of the program.


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