Little Free Library established in Barnwell

Liz Ringus adds a couple children's books to her new Little Free Library in front of her shop, the Little Red Barn.

Liz Ringus adds a couple children's books to her new Little Free Library in front of her shop, the Little Red Barn.

First Byline: 
Jonathan Vickery - Staff Writer

There's a new, little library in town, but you don't need a library card to check out a book. In fact, you don't even have to return the book.
Liz Ringus installed the Little Free Library a few weeks ago in front of her shop, the Little Red Barn on U.S. 278 in Barnwell. It's the first of its kind in Barnwell County, but is number 9,828 in the country.
Anyone can take a book, though they are encouraged to practice the Little Free Library motto: "Take a book, return a book." Books can be returned to any Little Free Library or passed on to a friend, and patrons are welcome to return a favorite book of their own.
Ringus plans to buy a stamp to mark books that come through her library. That way no matter where the books go, people will know it came through Barnwell.
"Little Free Libraries have a unique, personal touch and there is an understanding that real people are sharing their favorite books with their community. These aren't just any old books, this is a carefully curated collection and the library itself is a piece of neighborhood art," states www.littlefreelibrary.org.
"We're not trying to replace libraries, but encourage the availability of books," said Ringus, who is responsible for taking care of her library. She learned about the movement last year after reading an article in the American Profile magazine, which was inserted in The People-Sentinel.
Little Free Libraries have been popping up around the country since Todd Bol of Hudson, Wis., installed the first one in front of his house in 2009. His was a model of a one room schoolhouse in memory of his mother, a former teacher and avid reader, according to the site.
Ringus' library resembles the Little Red Barn and was built by her husband Paul using recycled wood and tin. "It's fun building it," said Ringus, who painted a picture of her three cats that roam the shop on the side of the library.
Bol later teamed up with Rick Brooks, someone who shared his passion of promoting literacy and the love of reading. They were inspired by people like Andrew Carnegie, who built 2,509 free public libraries around the turn of the 19th to 20th century, states the site.
The movement has grown quickly, surpassing their goal to build more libraries than Carnegie. "By January of 2014, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries in the world is conservatively estimated to be between 10,000 and 12,000, with thousands more being built," states the site.
Besides promoting literacy, Ringus hopes her Little Free Library will promote the community she's called home the past 20 years. She said Barnwell County has a lot to offer, though not everyone appreciates it.
"I hope a lot of people use it," said Ringus, who's already seen people borrowing and bringing books back. Her library is stocked with books for all ages, including children's books.
Ringus encourages others to join the movement and said she would love to see a Little Free Library in every town in Barnwell County. It costs $34.95 to register with the Little Free Library organization.
View a map of registered Little Free Libraries at www.littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap.