New Chapter at Coolidge Park: Little Free Library Opens in Fitchburg

October 2, 2018

Theresa Letarte, 7, searches for books inside the free library that was unveiled at Coolidge Park on Saturday. COURTESY PHOTO/ MELONY LETARTE Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

FITCHBURG -- When it comes to “Little Free Libraries,” the city is now on the map.

“My mission is to offer access to literature in community settings, school setting after-school settings -- wherever learning can be made through reading,” said David Pierre-Louis, co-founder of non-profit literacy agency, Ever After Foundation.

On Saturday, Pierre-Louis joined community members to unveil the city’s first free public library near the playground at Coolidge Park.

The library, built by artist and woodworker Christopher Letarte, resembles a small blue home, except instead of furniture, it’s filled with books.

Pierre-Louis explained the formation of his local nonprofit, Ever After Foundation. While on a trip to wife’s home country, Guyana, he was surprised to learn that the local library has a short supply of books and limited patrons to checking out one book at a time.

“It touched me,” he said, “that there are places in the world that don’t have access to literature.”

A father of three, among Pierre-Louis’ favorite pastimes was reading to his own young children. Doing so taught them to associate reading with positive emotions, a connection he hopes will be made by children whose parents read books to them from the free library.

“Now,” he said, “they have a passion for reading, because it’s associated with something personal and great.”

Two more free and public, bookcase-style libraries will soon be installed at Crocker Playground and outside a home on Electric Avenue, said At-Large City Councilor Samantha Squailia.

Squailia said she received approval from the Board of Parks Commissioners to install the small free library at Crocker Playground, where it be completed and filled with books within the next two weeks.

Those two libraries are registered with the Little Free Library organization, which keeps an online map listing the locations of over 60,000 such book exchanges nationwide.

Letarte, the owner of Whalom Painting and Woodcraft who led the recent effort to rebuild Wallis Park in Lunenburg, said the free library at Coolidge Park took about 100 hours of work to create.

He hopes readers will take a book, and leave a book, and “keep it stocked with really good stuff.”

“I want to make sure it stays good for a few years to come,” he said.

For his part, Pierre-Louis realized that he didn’t have to travel to South America to promote literacy.

“Impact doesn’t have to be in a foreign place, it can be in your own neighborhood as well,” he said.

In 2014, Pierre-Louis co-founded the Ever After Foundation, which aims to provide access to literature to the community and instill a love of reading in young people.

The organization has provided tutoring books to the Cleghorn Community Center, and receives donations of books from the community and his employer, Tufts University.

Maintaining the library at Coolidge Park, said Pierre-Louis, should be a communal effort by those invested in maintaining a resource that provides direct access to literature.

Update hourly