Free books handed out for 3 more Fridays

By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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Books could be seen fluttering through the courtyard behind Carnegie Library on Friday morning. The library didn’t spring a leak that day, though. It was a very windy day for the first day of Books in the Courtyard, an annual event sponsored by Friends of the Lincoln Library. Shirley Russell, a Friends of the Lincoln Library volunteer, said 338 free books were handed out to children during the four-hour event. “It’s excellent, considering we didn’t have kids brought in from summer school,” Russell said. Summer-school classes have been reduced this year due to lack of funding, according to previous News Messenger reports. Books in the Courtyard, spanning four weeks, is an opportunity for babies through third-graders to receive a free book, according to Russell. She started the program nine years ago. “The whole aim is to hook kids on books. I devised it in 2001 to get kids over here,” Russell said. “It’s important for kids to know that the community backs them having books and reading.” Russell and other Friends volunteers said they saw a number of children and their parents who return each year to get their free books as well as some first-timers. “I really want my boys to have a love of reading and it’s an opportunity for them to get introduced to reading,” said Jill Thorndyke. She brought her sons, Nathan, 2, and Trevor, 10 months, to pick out their books. “I just think it’s a foundation for everything else, like education, and it builds character,” Thorndyke said. Tristan Guiterrez, 9, has picked up the free books since he was in the first grade and now has a “little library of his own,” according to aunt Gloria Grijalva. “I like that they are pretty fun, because you can picture yourself right in the book, like you’re in the story,” Tristan said. This could be the last year for Books in the Courtyard as it appears funds raised by the Friends of the Lincoln Library will be needed “elsewhere in the library system,” according to Russell. That includes keeping the Carnegie Library open, Russell said, and keeping Mother Goose on the Loose viable. Russell said the program, in the past, cost an estimated $15,000 to provide books for readers up to age 18 for at least six weeks. This year, she said, Books in the Courtyard cost “between $5,000 and $6,000” for a four-week program, with books available for children through the third grade. In addition to funding, Russell said a volunteer crew is needed, from buying the books to running the program.