JOHN DAY – Free Little Libraries are coming to Grant County, and residents can get a preview of the new mini-branches this Saturday, July 27, at an open house.

The event will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Grant County Library in John Day.

“An important part of our mission is to encourage literacy and reading in the community,” said Vicki Waters, librarian. “The Free Little Libraries will take that effort into all the corners of Grant County, so people can have easier access to a good book.”

The new mini-libraries – all built by volunteers – will be set up like kiosks at locations across Grant County, from Monument to Seneca and Dayville to Austin Junction.

Waters got the idea from a magazine article about the Free Little Libraries. She thought it would work well in Grant County, where many people live far from the library.

A cadre of volunteers stepped up to build the libraries, including Larry Pierce, Dorman Gregory, Dan Graikowski, Mark Moulton, Steve Schuette, John Michael, Boyd Britton, and Bill Thomas. Monument and Long Creek school districts also have volunteered to have their shop classes build a couple more.

Each library is registered with the nonprofit Free Little Library Ltd. organization and has a uniform a sign and plexiglas door, but the design and type of materials were up to each builder.

In all, Waters expects to place 11 of the libraries in the county. The staff will stock some of the boxes during bookmobile trips; and volunteers also will help.

The books won’t come from the library’s official collection, but will mostly be duplicate copies and donated volumes, so they won’t need to be checked in or out. People can just open the Free Little Library and borrow any book they like – they can also add their own books to the mix.

Several of the libraries will be on display at the open house.

Waters said the event also will showcase some other new features the library is rolling out, including:

• New children’s computers from AWE Digital Learning Solutions. The library is adding two sets – one for ages 0-8, and the other for ages 8-14 – of the all-in-one computers. They feature a touch screen, as well as a colorful keyboard and mouse, with audio touches and animation suited to the age level.

Children can use the computers to research and learn, to hone their writing skills, and to explore their world, said Waters.

• Ready to Learn – a new program in several eastside counties that offers children up to age 5 more access to reading materials, while helping their families out with an Oregon College Savings Plan. Each time a child checks out a book or participates in a library program, a small cash amount is credited to the child’s college savings account.

Megan Brandsma, local coordinator, will be on hand to talk about the program.

• Demonstrations of the library’s new CoLibri book-covering system.

There will be refreshments. The library is at 507 S. Canyon Blvd.

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