Little Free Library Movement Lands in Manahawkin

Sep 06, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

After being in the works for at least a year, the Little Free Library at the Manahawkin Lake Park playground had its official ribbon-cutting last week. It’s a decorative box with a glass-paned door on it that contains dozens of books of all genres, for all audiences.

Library caretaker Gina Montanha of Manahawkin has always been a book lover, has raised two book-loving children, and was inspired to share the love of reading with her community after catching wind of the Little Free Library movement. So she purchased the kit, assembled the cabinet and had local artist Emma Cotter paint the exterior.

It’s a no-cost, honor system-based operation built on the concept of “take a book, return a book.” Borrowers can leave notes inside the books and share recommendations.

“I just hope it encourages reading and helps people get to know each other,” Montanha said. She also wanted to give her daughter and fellow book drop steward, Natalie, an opportunity for community service. Diane Stahl and her daughter Nicole are co-stewards.

Authors from Barnegat, LBI and Galloway promoted their titles and donated signed copies of their books to the box. Steve Lange writes about travel, survival and self-discipline; John Maffia writes science fiction; Patricia Chenoweth writes historical fiction/ romance. Julianne Stokes wrote the children’s book ABC Healthy.

In attendance were Mayor John Spodofora, Councilwoman Sharon McKenna, Miss Stafford Jessica Lependorf, Little Miss Stafford Emilie Krill, Little Town Crier Lucas Glowczynski and a handful of enthusiastic residents. Krill had her contribution ready to go, Dr. Seuss’s Come Over to My House.

Spodofora said Manahawkin Lake Park is a perfect location for the box given the common thread of volunteerism with the nearby Manahawkin Lake pavilion and the volunteer-run community garden. He added the public works craftsmen can build additional boxes if the project is a success.

Montanha told the small crowd last Thursday that Little Free Libraries are up in 70 different countries, and more than 50,000 are in the U.S.

Something of a grassroots activist, Montanha also administers the Buy Nothing Project page on Facebook, a community of 400 neighbors who would rather swap items than shop for new or let unneeded things end up in landfills.

“There’s nothing that we can’t share,” Montanha said. “I saw this (book exchange project) as an extension of that.” —V.F.

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