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Little library: Take a book, leave a book

Press Photo by Linda Sailer Chuck Peterson stands by the Little Free Library he had constructed in memory of his mother on Wednesday. It is located in between St. Luke's Home and Lincoln Elementary School on Tenth Street West.

The Little Free Library movement has reached western North Dakota with a book depository created by Chuck Peterson of Dickinson.

His Little Free Library is shaped like a one-room school house about the size of a dollhouse. Its purpose is simple: Take a book. Leave a book.

The idea came from the website Peterson's wife, Sandee, found the website while searching for memorial ideas in tribute to his mother, Helen Peterson, who died last September.

"She mostly recently taught at Regent for 35 years and before that in country schools outside of Mott," he said. "She then volunteered at the Catholic schools in Dickinson.

All total, she taught for 42 years and was an avid reader for more than 75 years, he said.

The program's mission is to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.

"That is what my mother was all about," he said. "The idea really fit so well," he said.

He invited a cousin, Reed Dobitz, to build the library to simulate the one-room country schools where Peterson had taught.

The Little Free Library was erected on a post beside the sidewalk along Tenth Street West in between St. Luke's Home and Lincoln Elementary School.

The family also registered the library on the website. The location will be placed on a GPS map for all the world to see.

The online map indicates there are Little Free Libraries in Fargo, Lisbon, Grand Forks and Hazen. It's believed Dickinson is the first to have a library in western North Dakota, Peterson said.

Little Free Library Ltd. was started in 2009 by Todd Bol and co-founder Rick Brooks from Wisconsin. Bol mounted a container on a post in tribute to his mother. The original goal was 2,510 Little Libraries to exceed the number of libraries started by Andrew Carnegie. Conservative estimates count from 5,000 to 6,000 Little Libraries in 36 countries.

The website gives detailed information on how to build a Little Free Library, where to put it and how to donate to the movement.

Peterson isn't worried about people robbing the library because, as the website puts it, you can't steal a free book. He plans to monitor and replenish the library if needed.

Peterson is encouraged by the response so far. After putting up the Little Free Library on Aug. 10, two young mothers were walking by with their strollers. They were excited to see the library and trade books, he said.

"This is a great concept to encourage reading and sharing of books that has really taken hold around the world," Peterson said.