Bob Cheshier Memorial Little Free Library installed at St. Paul's
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2747 Fairmount Blvd., is the site of the Bob Cheshier Memorial Little Free Library. Although Cheshier died just over a year ago, his legacy lives on in the Little Free Library movement that he brought to Cleveland.
The movement began in 2009 when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wis., built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading, and placed it on a post in his front yard with a sign that said, "free books." His friend Rick Brooks, a youth and community development educator, saw the potential of the idea as a way to achieve a variety of goals for the common good.
The resulting Little Free Libraries movement has the dual goals of promoting literacy and a love of reading, and building a sense of community through shared skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.
Cheshier, a member of St. Paul’s, loved the idea and thought that there should be a Little Free Library near every Cleveland public school. He embarked on a mission to make it happen.
The first libraries he had built looked like Bol’s original model, a little red schoolhouse complete with a cupola and bell. Plain Dealer columnist Margaret Bernstein wrote about Cheshier’s efforts, and the idea spread. Soon, Little Free Libraries were springing up around Greater Cleveland.
Heights Libraries has two Little Free Libraries that it sponsors: one at Canterbury Elementary School and the other at the Noble Neighborhood Library.
Cheshier’s friends at St. Paul’s wanted to memorialize him and his work, so members of the church’s Global Mission Action Group and its affiliated nonprofit, Third World Books, commissioned the Bob Cheshier Memorial Little Free Library and placed it on the church grounds—near the preschool entrance off of North St. James Parkway. The library holds a memorial plaque, created by Todd Bol, that acknowledges Cheshier’s vision and devotion to his mission.
The Rev. Alan Gates, former rector of St. Paul’s (now the Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts) dedicated the library in June, with more than 50 people in attendance, including students from Open Doors Academy, which meets at St. Paul’s.
Children, adults—anyone passing by St. Paul’s—is encouraged to “Take a Book—Leave a Book.”
For more information about the Little Free Library movement, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org. If you are interested in establishing a library in your neighborhood, contact Margaret Bernstein, local volunteer facilitator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nancy Sherwin is a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and treasurer of Third World Books.