Record number of books given to kids

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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The Carnegie Library courtyard was a hive of activity Thursday as children swarmed tables to buzz off with free books. It was the start of the eighth annual Books in the Courtyard, a program in which Lincoln’s youths are given free books – one per child per week – for six weeks, said Shirley Russell, program director for Lincoln Friends of the Library. “It was one of my brainwaves,” Russell said Thursday. The program’s goal is not just to encourage early literature – which is a big part of it – but also to draw residents together in the downtown area, according to Russell. That goal was accomplished Thursday, as a record 644 books were passed out. Another 30 were sent to kindergarten classes, bringing the total given away to 674, according to Russell. “We’ve been coming the last couple of years,” said Reinette Little, who brought her two daughters to the event Thursday. “The girls really look forward to it.” Free books are available for babies through fifth graders. The program’s six-week schedule will run from 8 a.m. to noon Thursdays through July 23 at the courtyard behind the Carnegie Library on the corner of Fifth and F streets. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at