By Michelle Williams
Tiny libraries are popping up around Boone County thanks to the efforts of volunteers like David Ruffer, a retiree who attends Zionsville Christian Church.
“It started with a little girl who was marveled at the fact that she could take books. She kept trying to figure out when she had to return them. When it finally dawned on her that she could keep them forever, she started crying because she’d never owned a book before,” said Ruffer, who volunteers with a group at his church that distributes lunches in the summer to children who are on the free and reduced school lunch program.
Ruffer was so moved by the positive feedback about the donated books that he decided to go a step further. He builds small library boxes around Boone County – the first being the Pine Ridge Free Library.
“The offer I make is that I will provide a library at my expense with its first set of books anywhere there is a population of kids who live in economically challenging situations,” Ruffer said. He calls it the Boone County Free Library System.
Each free library holds up to 30 books, and children or adults can take or return a book any time. No rules, due dates or penalties exist.
“Libraries present risk to poor families, because if you lose a book, you owe some money to the library. The last thing you can afford to do is generate a potential additional claim on your income. Some people tend not to go to libraries for that reason,” Ruffer said. He believes that every child should have easy access to books.
With 10 total free libraries placed around Boone County, Ruffer has recruited help from other churches and groups to maintain each location. Volunteers visit the free libraries weekly and manage the supply of books.
“Little kids now have an opportunity to read who didn’t before. We are making a difference in a lot of areas,” Ruffer said.
For more information or to request a free library in your area, email David Ruffer at firstname.lastname@example.org.