Jeff Helminiak / Peninsula Clarion
A green Little Free Library stands at the edge of Daubenspeck Family Park on Wednesday in Kenai.

Jeff Helminiak / Peninsula Clarion A green Little Free Library stands at the edge of Daubenspeck Family Park on Wednesday in Kenai.

Proposal would bring more Little Free Libraries to Kenai

The proposal to expand the program came from Friends of the Kenai Library

Tucked quietly behind a grove of spruce trees near the Kenai Walmart is a pale green house filled with books. It’s mounted on a stake and is part of a network of Little Free Libraries scattered throughout the city.

Stuffed with Dean Koontz paperbacks and a flimsy copy of “Corduroy,” the box operates on a take a book, share a book model that some in Kenai would like to expand.

More Little Free Libraries could be coming to Kenai per a proposal from the Friends of the Kenai Library. The organization, which has a stated mission of enhancing library programs and participation, has raised money to expand the program according to documents provided to the City of Kenai’s beautification committee.

A Feb. 8 memo from Tyler Best, an administrative assistant with the Kenai Parks and Recreation Department, outlines 10 locations for proposed and current library locations. According to the memo, the City of Kenai already has three libraries, with one each at Forest Drive, Daubenspeck Family Park and Kenai Municipal Park. Those were installed in 2018, according to Clarion archives.

Best wrote that the city’s Parks and Recreation Department has agreed to review each site location on city land and to help with the installation of the libraries. The proposal was also presented to the Kenai Parks and Recreation Beautification Committee during the committee’s Feb. 15 meeting.

The first “Little Free Library” can be traced back to Todd Bol, of Wisconsin, who built a library box shaped like a schoolhouse to honor his mom. Bol put the library box in his front yard and it quickly became popular. Now, Little Free Library operates as a nonprofit organization with a stated mission of building community, inspiring readers and expanding book access.

More than $15,000 was donated to the Friends of the Kenai Library last year after the Kenai City Council postponed acceptance of a library grant pending review of materials to be purchased. The action prompted cries of censorship by members of the community and some council members as well as the launch of a GoFundMe fundraiser for the library.

Proposed future locations include at private residences near Cunningham Park and on Linwood Road, next to the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church and at the Kenai Field of Flowers. Alterations to the city’s existing library locations include relocation for better accessibility.

More information on the Friends of the Kenai Library can be found on the organization’s Facebook page.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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