CHATSWORTH — It may look like a big birdhouse at first, but a closer look reveals it’s a little library of sorts.
But you don’t need a card to check out books and there are no fines for returning things late.
The Beta Phi Book Barn was dedicated Monday afternoon in Chatsworth City Park. It was placed there by members of the Beta Phi Chapter of the honorary teacher sorority Alpha Delta Kappa as a way to promote literacy in the community.
You can take a book. Or just read a book, then put it back. Or just leave a book.
There aren’t many set rules to how the Book Barn works.
“The concept is that you get a free book, bring it back if you want to, keep it forever if you want to. If you have some books, you can bring one and put in it,” said Beta Phi member Carolyn Luffman. “It doesn’t matter. It’s free.”
The concept is not new. It’s based on a nonprofit organization called Little Free Library, which promotes similar libraries throughout the country. According to the organization’s website (littlefreelibrary.org), there is no Little Free Library in Chatsworth or even in the Dalton and Chattanooga areas. The Book Barn has not been registered through the site.
“Some of the members of Beta Phi had seen one in Dahlonega,” said Elizabeth Robinson, the chapter’s co-president. “We thought we needed to do that in Chatsworth. We thought it would be a good way to promote literacy in our community. We happened to be passing by a park over there and thought that’s cute. We’re proud of it.”
Members of the organization stocked the Book Barn and will oversee it to make sure books remain available and are appropriate. Current books include children’s books, picture books, informational books and literature that span several different genres for young adults and adults.
“We have a lot of kids books in there. We want parents to get the book, read it in the park or take it home,” Robinson said. “You don’t have to put another one in there ... We’re so excited. We just want someone to come get a book, enjoy the city park because it’s beautiful and just read.”
The barn was built by Danny Rogers, who has a family member in Beta Phi.
As educators, members of Beta Phi know the importance of literacy.
“If you can teach a child to read, you can teach them to do anything,” Robinson said. “If a child can read, the world is there for them. It doesn’t matter what they’re reading if it’s something that interests them.”
Alpha Delta Kappa members focus on altruistic projects in the community. Members of Beta Phi have contributed to Community Christmas, helped with projects at Mountain Creek Academy and made contributions to the Mountain View Boys Home as well as many other projects.
The barn was dedicated in October because that’s the month the organization honors its founders. It was also dedicated to the community.