LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — A program that started a few years ago to promote reading in Lake Worth Beach has grown substantially and recently hit a major milestone.
"Mary Lindsey is the reason we have this (Little Free Libraries) project. It was really her passion," said Cindy Ansell, the Lake Worth Beach Public Library director.
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Inspired by her own love for reading, Lindsey, the president of Lake Worth Little Free Libraries, wanted nothing more than to share that with generations to come in her city of Lake Worth Beach.
She saw a picture of a Little Free Library on Facebook, searched online for it, and jumped into action.
"I heard about it five years ago, and I thought the city of Lake Worth was fertile ground for exactly that kind of a project," Lindsey said.
After getting the city manager on board, permitting was approved, and there are now more than 100 Little Free Libraries throughout Lake Worth Beach.
"There's not another community in the world that has as many (Little Free Libraries) per capita as the town of Lake Worth," Ansell said.
Marking a milestone, the program recently reached 500,000 books that have been distributed.
"What’s remarkable is that every single one of those books was donated either from the public at large or through our partnership with the Palm Beach County School District," Lindsey said.
A team of more than 120 volunteers keeps her vision going.
A steward is attached to each Little Free Library, keeping it neat, tidy and filled with books.
"You cannot imagine the thrill when I'm just riding around town doing errands, and I pass a (Little Free Library), and there's two or three kids standing there, and one of them will open it up," Lindsey said. "They select a book, and they hold it like it's Christmas morning for these kids. They can keep it as long as they want."
Lake Worth Beach’s librarian said the Little Free Libraries got the community through the pandemic when the library was shut down for six months.
"I can't tell you how many people have come into the library and said, 'If it wasn't for the (Little Free Libraries), I would not have had books to read while you were closed," Ansell said.