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South Jordan Journal

Have you spotted a Little Free Library in South Jordan?

Sep 30, 2019 04:21PM ● By Libby Allnatt

This telephone box in South Jordan is more than a cultural relic: It’s a Little Free Library that houses five shelves of books. (Libby Allnatt/City Journals)

Libby Allnatt | [email protected] 

Few things in life are truly free, but thanks to some South Jordan residents, reading materials can be. 

Little Free Library is the nonprofit organization behind those little wooden boxes stocked with books you may have seen around town. Several have popped up in South Jordan thanks to “stewards,” the term for residents who start a Little Free Library in their neighborhood. According to the organization’s online map, there are currently 17 registered Little Free Libraries in South Jordan. 

One of the newer ones was started by Cassidy Olsen, who got a Little Free Library up and running in Holt Farmstead Park in July. 

“We had a little kickoff party when we started it,” Olsen said. “We made some bookmarks, had some ice cream, we had a book drive at that time. That helped me get a reserve of books to keep it stocked.”

Olsen said that she learned about Little Free Library several years ago and got the idea to start one this past spring. She bought hers on Amazon, but she notes that you can also buy them on Etsy or the Little Free Library website, as well as build one yourself. 

Olsen said there were some challenges to getting the Little Free Library set up because it was going on city property, but after navigating a few hurdles and dead ends, she was able to get the idea rolling. 

“After I got permission, I moved quick and had it up and running by July 15,” she said. 

Olsen said that she’s already noticed a lot of usage in the time the Little Free Library has been operational. She said she drives by it often and checks on it daily or every two days to trade out books and make sure it is well-stocked. 

“I have a little guestbook where people can sign in or write a note, mostly little kids,” she said. “They love to have this be an experience for them and say, thanks for the books.”

Having a way for visitors to leave their mark is also important for Brent Jensen, a steward behind another Little Free Library in South Jordan that even has a nickname: Sir Owen. 

Sir Owen is a London telephone box, standing tall and red with five shelves inside for books. 

Jensen said he and his wife got Sir Owen from an antique store in Las Vegas after years of wanting a telephone box. 

They eventually realized that Sir Owen could take on new life as a Little Free Library. 

“I had seen the whole Little Free Library thing, and one side of our brains, we had always wanted a telephone box, and then like, the Little Free Library, what a cool thing,” Jensen said. “We eventually put those two halves together and said, wouldn’t that be cool?”

Jensen said he and his family like to put fun items in there in addition to books, such as a jar of dog treats. On a recent weekend while checking on Sir Owen, he noticed a visitor had left their own addition: another jar of treats for smaller dogs. 

“We try to take care of it and make sure there’s a good selection. It’s becoming one of those neighborhood things,” Jensen said. “We try to go out every day and see if there’s wrappers or donations or other sorts of things, to keep it tidy. Once every week to two weeks, I’ll go put more books out, take them out if books have been there for a while.”

Jensen said in addition to promoting a love of reading and encouraging people to read books they wouldn’t otherwise pick up—a major effect of the Little Free Library is promoting a sense of community. 

“I’ve met more of my neighbors doing the Little Free Library,” he said. “We’ve lived here for nine years; we’ve had the Little Free Library for four years, and I’ve met so many more of my neighbors in that time.”

Olsen, who set up the Little Free Library in Holt Farmstead Park, also emphasizes the community aspect.

“Early literacy is important because it can really affect all areas of a child’s life, so if we get them reading and to love reading, we know that they’ll be successful in their future,” Olsen said. “So, it’s important in the literary aspect. I also think it’s just great community bonding and an opportunity for us to get to know other people around us where we may not know other people. It’s just a bonding experience.”

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