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December 17, 2015 • Headline News
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Checkout mini library at Pangburn Park

‘Library’ honors Candy Wehr

Sandy Day Howard

Roxanne Meyer of Versailles has initiated an addition to a world-wide program that has the potential to touch the lives of hundreds of children and adults in our community. The “Little Free Library” is a project Meyer undertook to honor her friend Candy Wehr who died in a plane crash almost four years ago, and offers a miniature library with an ‘honor system’ checkout process. Meyer knew Wehr to be an avid reader, who ‘never met a book she didn’t love.’
“The concept is very simple:,” Meyer explained. “Take a book - return a book!”  The red and white library is shaped like a tiny house and Meyer selected Pangburn Park on Tanglewood Road as the site.

Little Free Library at Pangburn ParkSANDY DAY HOWARD PHOTO
Roxanne Meyer and Joe Mann set up the Little Free Library at Pangburn Park.

The Little Free Library program started in 2009 when Todd Bol from Hudson, Wisconsin, had a small library built to honor his mother, who had been a teacher and loved to read.  He filled the library with some of his mother’s books, put a “free books” sign on it, and placed it in his yard.  His neighbors and friends loved it!  So he made a few more libraries, and then, his idea just snow-balled.  Fast-forward to January 2015, when it was estimated that there were more than 25,000 Little Free Libraries across the world. A map located at indicates the thousands of sites throughout the US and around the world. The Little Free Library organization’s mission is “To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.”    

The library is available anytime for everyone to use, toddlers to adults. Residents are encouraged to browse through the selections and are invited to take a book to read.  When they finish it, they can return it, or even a different book in its place, to the library.   An added bonus is the opportunity for neighbors to get to know each other better as they tend to run into each other when they visit the library.

Roxanne began brainstorming about the project after she and her husband Bob spent a week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with former Versailles residents Dick and Cindy Helton.

 “Cindy told me about the two Little Free Libraries near their daughter’s home in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and also that their son, Todd, and his wife, Karen, had one built to honor their daughter, Ellie, who passed away last summer from a brain aneurysm,” Meyer explained.“ I was intrigued and started Googling for more information.” The former teacher was immediately hooked on the program and spent the next several days reading more about The Little Free Libraries and finding and saving pictures to a Pinterest board. She then began enlisting the help of several fellow Versailles residents to put her plan into action.

Roxanne voiced her appreciation for the many people in our community who have helped get the project underway.“Joe Mann was such a big help from the very beginning, ”Meyer said. ” He helped choose the location, painted the post and the brackets, and installed the library at Pangburn Park on Thanksgiving Day. Kevin Hensley from the Versailles Street Department donated the post and had the special mounting brackets made. Dave Benz, a local woodworker, built the library. “I just explained what I wanted, the approximate size and a few more details and Dave worked his magic! “ Meyer laughed. Brenda Campbell, Director for Tyson Library, paid the fee to register the library with the worldwide organization and get the official sign.” I’ve been able to go online and register our Library on the world locator map,” Meyer announced. “I think that’s pretty cool!”  Susan Westmeyer-Adkins was a big help to Meyer throughout the entire process and was instrumental in selecting the playground as the library’s site.

 “We chose Pangburn Park because there are a lot of children who live in the area. The playground area was perfect because there is a concrete pad and nice benches where children and their parents can sit and enjoy the books.”  Susan also designed an informational flyer and distributed it throughout the neighborhood.  “Candy’s excitement and enthusiasm about literature was contagious,” Roxanne recalled of her friend. “She was always telling me about a book she had recently read, saying, “I think you’d like it, too. She loved children’s books, too, and read them aloud to her classes with such expression.”

Meyer’s ‘wheels’ have been turning constantly since she first heard about the libraries, planning more little libraries for the Versailles community. Other possible locations include Countrywood Apartments, Clearview Lane and the surrounding neighborhood, the Fern Drive area, the housing area behind UPS, the Sports Complex. “I’d like to see at least 3 or 4 more scattered through town!”

Roxanne taught for 15 years at South Ripley Elementary, working closely with fellow teacher Candy for 10 of them. They then spent 13 more years together as consultants with Renaissance Learning, maker of Accelerated Reader, which is the most widely used reading software program in the country.  Meyer retired from her position as Director of Consulting Services for Renaissance in July 2014. National publications and celebrities have acknowledged the universal literary project’s success and contribution to communities around the world.

“Little Free Library is a Global Sensation!” -The Wall Street Journal
“Quaint and compact, these handcrafted structures draw inspiration from a bygone era, when life seemed simpler, slower. Little Libraries, and the serendipitous discoveries they allow, defy a world over-awed by algorithms, apps and data...”-Kathryn Stearns of Vermont Public Radio.

There are currently over 32,000 Little Free Library book exchanges around the world. If you’re interested in supporting a Little Free Library in the Versailles area, contact Roxanne at or 812-216-9585.

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