New Little Free Library at Willamette Heritage Center offers books, crafts

There’s a new Little Free Library in town, with red paint and white trim to match its home at the Willamette Heritage Center.

The heritage center will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 1:30 p.m. to celebrate the new mini-structure that will provide books and craft supplies to the surrounding community.

“We’re really excited. We haven’t added anything new to the museum in a number of years, and so this new permanent aspect to our museum, I think, is really exciting and it’s already gotten a lot of use,” said Josh Henderson, the center’s education manager.

Originally, staff wanted to build multiple free libraries within the museum that related to the exhibits.

“That kind of evolved into, ‘you know what, this should be something that should be available to everyone, 24/7,’” he said. “So we consolidated our ideas to build this much larger Little Free Library.”

The structure, east of the warehouse building, hopes to serve passersby from the nearby Bush Elementary School and Willamette University.

The craft drawer in the new Little Free Library at Willamette Heritage Center(Abbey McDonald/Salem Reporter)

The structure was built by volunteers, using a $2,000 grant from the Rotary Club of Salem, Henderson said. The grant also covered the cost to register it with the Little Free Library nonprofit organization and provide a few years of funding for craft supplies.

Many of the books are about history and heritage, including a full set of the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne, which stars siblings who travel back in time to various historic events and periods.

“Those have a sentimental value to me, that’s kind of how I learned to read when I was growing up here in Salem,” Henderson said. “And those are somewhat history related, so I think those are my favorite addition.”

The Little Library also holds educational craft supplies and instructions. Its first projects will be to weave a pumpkin out of strips of paper, or make a pumpkin pom-pom out of yarn.

Supplies are free, and families can also pick up a toolbox at the front desk with scissors, markers and other creative supplies.

Ahead of the ribbon cutting the center did a soft launch in early October with a batch of books that Henderson said was quickly cleared out.

“I think it’s definitely being used, and I’m excited to debut it to the community officially,” he said.

The ribbon cutting will be Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 1:30 p.m. at the Little Library. Oak bookmarks will be given to the first 50 guests in attendance. Donations of new and gently used books are welcome.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.