The Rotary Club of Potsdam has opened three "Lil'" Free Libraries with books specifically geared toward children. The new libraries are located outside of Trinity Episcopal Church at 8 Maple St., Yum Yum's Chilly Delight at 12 Main St., and Harris Medical Supplies inside the Market Square Mall. Little Free Libraries are little house-like kiosks in which books are donated. They are located all over the world and are free to both adults and children to take a book or leave a book, if they can.
The idea for the new Potsdam libraries came about when Rotarians brainstormed ways to promote literacy, one of Rotary International's seven areas of focus.
Rotarian Beck Tessier suggested promoting literacy in young children by creating Little Free Libraries that focused just on kids.
"My daughter, Maddie, loves to be read to and I knew how important it was to keep reading to her and how much she enjoyed it," says Tessier. "If she has this opportunity to enjoy new and used books, then I felt other children should as well. The Little Free Libraries came to mind, but I wanted to focus mainly on children and how to get children engaged in more reading outside of school."
Potsdam Rotary's concept is to promote literacy, demonstrate a reading lifestyle, forge a partnership with parents, and establish a new avenue of community service for the club.
"There are some Little Libraries located in Potsdam, but they are more geared toward adult books," says Tessier. "I wanted The Rotary's Little Free Libraries to be special. I wanted them to stand out, be bright, yet attractive among the others, but most importantly I wanted them geared to children."
Rotary's book-sharing boxes were named "Lil'" Free Libraries, to distinguish them from the ones with adult audiences.
Tessier's father-in-law, Ted Coller, built the three Lil' Free Libraries. Tessier then chose her daughter’s favorite books and painted replicas of their spines on the ends of the libraries to represent children’s books.
One of Rotary International's goals is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy, reduce gender disparity in education, and increase adult literacy. In short, Rotary supports education for all children and literacy for children and adults.
The Potsdam Rotary Club was established in 1928. Today it continues a long tradition of performing hands-on service projects and fund-raising for local, regional, and international causes.  The club meets each Wednesday at noon at Yum Yum's Chilly Delight in Potsdam and online. Guests are welcome.
Left to right: Library artist Rotarian Beck Tessier, library craftsman Ted Coller, and library host Rotarian Duane Pelkey.