There’s a boatload of free reading materials around Puyallup and Sumner if you know where to look.
Just check the Little Free Libraries, where readers are encouraged to take a book, as long as they leave one behind.
There’s one at Wildwood Park, made by the Girl Scouts, and a red one along East Pioneer downtown, outside State Farm.
Now, two more have been added to the group, thanks to members of the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute.
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The institute is designed to develop community leadership skills. Each class is “tasked with creating a unique community-based group experience with their work,” according to a pamphlet.
This year’s program has 15 members, and when it came time to pick a group project, member Ruth Rabdau saw an opportunity.
“My husband Dirk and I were downsizing, and thus were forced to part with hundreds of books,” Rabdau, CFO of Kersey Mobility, which does vehicle modifications for individuals with disabilities. “We set up a bookshelf in the waiting area of Kersey Mobility, and the books started flying off of the shelves.”
Rabdau heard positive feedback about the free books.
“A client mentioned that she would love to be able to exchange books after business hours,” Rabdau said.
Through a neighbor, Rabdau heard about Free Little Libraries and registered her library as Charter No. 61845. Then she drafted a proposal and pitched the idea to the Leadership Institute as the class project.
Puyallup City Councilwoman Robin Farris, a member of institute, proposed a second library outside of her home at 412 Second St. NW.
“My goal is to bring unity to the community, bring community conversation and this I think exemplifies that,” Farris said. “People can stop by and I’ll talk to them about the Little Free Library and I’ll also talk to them about the Leadership Institute.”
The library at Kersey Mobility is at 6015 160th Ave. E in Sumner. Inside, folks are welcome to browse more books in the firm’s showroom during business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“We are well located to serve disadvantaged individuals with limited access to books that may be unable or unwilling to enter a public library,” Rabdau said. “Also, I love the LFL near my home and have met several neighbors due to using the box. It’s fun to exchange books without having to keep track of due dates.”
Jason VanGuilder, an institute member and associate engineer for the city of Sumner, built both libraries.
“This project will help build stronger community relationships and help members of our communities enjoy greater access to literature,” Rabdau said.