The simple, wooden birdhouse is perched on a shady corner in the neighborhood it’s called home for 10 years. After providing a safe haven for a family of wrens earlier this year, the box is now protecting other treasures – books – as an officially chartered site for a Little Free Library.

The simple, wooden birdhouse is perched on a shady corner in the neighborhood it’s called home for 10 years. After providing a safe haven for a family of wrens earlier this year, the box is now protecting other treasures – books – as an officially chartered site for a Little Free Library.


Kristi Brashier and her daughter, Katie Jane Brashier, of Denison happily greeted the unique library’s first visitors Wednesday afternoon. Part of the Mainus family – a father and his six sons – leafed through the books being offered, taking several for the boys to read. Kristi Brashier explained that they can take all the books they want to read at any time, free of charge. After the youngsters are done, the books can be returned to the box, kept if the young readers want to hang on to the books, or they can even replace the books in the box with different books.


Starting an official Little Free Library has been a goal of the Brashier family since Kristi Brashier discovered the non-profit organization online. Being avid readers, the mother and daughter team wanted to encourage others to read by making it easy and convenient to do so. The shabby chic birdhouse sporting rustic reds and greens, was a simple choice as home for the handy library.


"The birdhouse started as a prop for the Theatricks "Little Women" play I was in in 2004. After the play was over, the birdhouse was given to me," remembers Katie Jane Brashier, a Denison High School graduate and now a college student. "The birdhouse was put on our front porch and I and my brothers and the neighborhood kids used it as a message system. We left notes in it for each other, but now we’re all grown."


After discovering the Little Free Library program, Kristi Brashier decided the birdhouse, now unused, would be a perfect candidate.


"I saw it (information on the Little Free Library program) online," says Kristi Brashier. "I loved it that the books were free – no library card, no cost – and it was always there … There are a lot of them up north, but not many in the south."


The Brashiers planned on opening their Little Free Library earlier this year, but had an unexpected delay. A mother wren selected the roomy birdhouse in which to lay her eggs and raise four babies. The Brashiers, understanding the importance of family, waited until the babies had flown the nest before revamping the birdhouse, making it as rain-proof as possible. They then applied for and received their official Little Free Library charter – # 11649. They selected the corner of Thompson Heights Road and Neva Lane as the ideal location because of its easy accessibility. The Jack Crews family that owns the corner property readily gave permission to place the birdhouse there as their own grandchildren will no doubt be patrons of the handy library. The Brashiers then loaded the birdhouse with a dozen books plus a journal in which the library users can write a review if they’d like to or even make a book request.


The Little Free Library was officially opened this week and is available to anyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The box will be checked regularly, along with the journal, and the book supply will be replenished as needed. The Brashiers hope it becomes a favorite stop for not just neighbors of all ages, but for anyone who would like a book.


"We have several people who walk every day in this area, and we’ve got neighborhood children and adults," says Kristi Brashier. "But the little library is also open to anyone who happens to be passing by. Maybe somebody camping at Eisenhower State Park would like to come and get a book to read!"


Katie Jane Brashier adds, "I’m excited. The birdhouse is perfect for the Little Free Library! We’re hoping this will spark an interest and other neighborhoods will start doing the Little Free Library. Maybe this will get the kids off their cell phones."


For information on how to start and charter an official Little Free Library, go to http://littlefreelibrary.org.