Colorful Vernon Parish 'book nooks' inspire reading, creativity in communities

Colorful "book nooks" or little libraries decorate Vernon Parish. Source: KALB

Colorful wooden boxes popped up around Vernon Parish over the weekend.

Tony McDonald, Gallery Coordinator for Gallery One Ellleven in Leesville says brainstorming for the Vernon Parish Book Nooks started a year and a half ago. These 'little free libraries' are scattered across the globe, stocked with a handful of donated books for local residents to borrow and return.

"We've had people say they're going to make geo cash locations at the book nooks," says Mcdonald. "We've had people say they're going to drop Pokemon lures at the book nooks. We've got people saying they want to do things centered around these so it's been a real grassroots swelling of involvement and once we put them out they belong to the community."

Michelle Mitchell, a former teacher, fell in love with the idea. The project is a way to honor the life of her late husband, Judge James 'Jim' Mitchell of the 30th Judicial District. Mitchell says her husband was an avid reader.

"He read books all the time and he also inspired children to read and just be the best that they could be and he always thought that if you could read you could do anything. When you read that's the basic foundation for everything you do in life."

Now 20 Book Nooks, decorated by local artists, are sprinkled throughout Vernon Parish including 10 along 3rd street in downtown Leesville.

"We were very selective when we placed the 10 downtown, " said McDonald. "When you've walked to all 10 of them, you've walked 2 miles."

Each library is meant to bring communities together by encouraging reading and creativity.

McDonald said "What you have is a group of people reading, learning and transmitting literature through the community at many different levels. It's not just for kids."

Mitchell adds "reading is wonderful and having a good education is vitally important but to be creative, that opens up so many avenues."

And for Mitchell, these splashes of color, a tribute to the man she loved.

"I know that if he's looking down, he's so very proud this is happening not just for the children in this community but for everyone in this community."

Private donors like Mitchell and others brought the book nooks to life. McDonald says they plan to add more throughout Vernon Parish. The Vernon Parish Tourism Commission is also working on an app for the little libraries. Head to the Vernon Parish Book Nook facebook page for more information.