Riverbank residents Ben and Julie Reuben are spreading the excitement of books and reading through their new Little Free Library that is posted in their yard on Saxon Way. During a brief discussion on New Year’s Eve, the Reuben’s enlisted the assistance from a friend, Stephen Ray who built, designed, and installed the library.
The Little Free Library has been open on Saxon Way for the past few weeks but due to weather they were unable to have an opening celebration. This past Saturday the weather was just right with the sun shining so the Reuben’s invited friends and neighbors to the official grand opening of the Little Free Library.
“It has been a labor of love,” said Ray. “I am happy to share that with the world.”
“He just did a great job and we are really excited about it,” said Julie.
Several guests that attended the celebration brought books to donate to keep the Little Free Library stocked.
Dealing in books is nothing new for the Reuben duo. Ben’s first job was at a library and Julie spent 10 years at the county library and over 20 years at CSU Stanislaus library so books and the love for reading made the Little Free Library a great fit for them.
Julie then addressed the crowd and began to share some information about the Little Free Library organization. She shared that the organization’s mission states that it is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.
With the Little Free Library having an origin in 2009 with the original goal to have approximately 2500 by the end of 2013 they surpassed those expectations with 4000 Little Libraries by the end of 2012. Now, they are in 80 different countries and in 2017 it was reported that there are 60,000 all over the world. She also shared that on the website it stated that 61 percent of low income families do not have any books for their kids in their homes.
“Millions of books get exchanged and shared every year,” stated Julie. “The idea of this also is for kids and families whose parents that don’t get a chance to go to the public library because they are busy. It is not to replace the public library by any means but it is just for people that don’t get to go check out books from the library as often as they would like to.”
The Little Free Library was dedicated to Julie’s mother who passed away in November, Pat Zimmerman, to honor her memory.
“She wasn’t a librarian and she wasn’t a teacher but she instilled in me and my sisters a lifelong love of books and reading and we went to the library every Saturday and in the summer we went several times a week when we were growing up,” stated Julie.
After the presentation and the ribbon cutting guests made their way into the Reuben’s home and enjoyed some refreshments.
The response has been really good, according to the Reuben’s and they are pleased every time they see a book missing or a new book added. The books are not checked out and people are encouraged to take books, share books, and leave books so that all may enjoy the use of the Little Free Library.