Little Free Library Opens in Florida

June 8, 2016 Press Release

Bob and HelpersOn Saturday, June 4, 2016, the Florida Public Library and Roe Brothers, Inc. unveiled a joint project several months in the making: a Little Free Library on the front porch of Roe’s newly renovated hardware store and lumberyard at 65 Maple Avenue in Florida. The occasion was the 130th anniversary of this historic mainstay of Florida’s business community which opened in 1886 on property formerly owned by the Erie Railroad which once ran through Florida to service local farms. The store is now operated by Roe descendants Arnold Bieling and sons Tim and Scott. The Bielings are also descendants of the Seward family so prominent in Florida’s history.

Roe MenThe Little Free Library was constructed by the members of the library’s Tween Club, fourth and fifth graders who worked under the supervision of several local volunteers. Architectural drafter and newly elected library trustee Cecelia Lillard oversaw the design process and taught the students how to imagine, plan and draw designs for the structure. Expert woodworker Bob Persing, an engineer retired from Princeton, was in charge of construction. Funds for the project were provided by a grant directed to the library by State Senator John J. Bonacic. Roe Brothers also donated materials and Tim Bieling crafted a gleaming copper roof for the miniature library which also features a board and batten design echoing the style of Roe’s building updated by DeGraw and DeHaan Architects. 

The Little Free Library is now open for business and stocked with paperbacks for summer reading, children’s books and how-to books on home repair, carpentry and renovation. All books were donated to FPL and are free for the taking. Bookmarks and flyers on library programs are also available in compartments within the little library. Roe Brothers has provided rocking chairs for the porch and a pet watering station, as well, so store customers, neighbors and passers-by, both human and four-legged, are invited to sit, stay and read.

The Little Free Library movement, headquartered in Hudson, Wisconsin, is a worldwide effort to make books available to everyone. Its motto is “Take a book, leave a book” and Little Free Libraries may be erected by individuals, businesses or anyone who cares to take on the responsibility. Florida Public Library will be the steward for the library and keep it stocked with reading materials while Roe Brothers will see to maintenance. A custom wooden sign with an official registration number and the Little Free Library logo is on order and the new library’s GPS coordinates will also be included shortly on the global map on www.LittleFreeLibrary.org.

“We thank Arnold, Tim and Scott Bieling for their support of reading” said library director Madelyn Folino. “They couldn’t have been easier to work with and we look forward to many happy years of partnering with them on this outreach project. In fact, we’d love to have more Little Free Libraries in Florida if anyone can suggest other sites. We’re looking into it now, but we believe there are only two other Little Free Libraries in Orange County.”

Roe and FPL