Lindsey Swank talks about the East Elementary Little Free Library

Three Little Free Libraries Help the Athens Community

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Ohio University’s Alden Library and the Athens CountyPublic Library are not the only places to grab a book in Athens. In fact, there are many libraries in Athens where the books are free. These libraries, which are called Little Free Libraries, are scattered around Athens and are full of books and magazines for readers of all levels.

Little Free Library is a non-profit organization based out of Hudson, Wisconsin, that aims to provide more books to people and support community development through book sharing. People from around the world can register their own libraries under Little Free Library. Once registered, the library is put on a digital map where people who want to grab a free book can find the library. People who take a book from a library are then encouraged to leave a book in order for the library to stay full. Pam Rowland is registered under Little Free Library and has her library sitting in her front yard in Athens. Rowland says she refills it when people don’t leave any books behind. She doesn’t mind refilling it because she simply wants more people to read.  She has had the library in her front yard since 2015. The library was a surprise from her family who helped her build and design it. Click the link below to hear her story and take a look through the photo gallery below to see pictures of her library. 



Like Pam, Lindsey Swank also has a passion for children and believes reading is important for children, especially during the summer months. It was one of her goals as PTO President at East Elementary to build a  Little Free Library. The library now stands in the school’s sensory garden that was built during Athens Beautification Day this spring. Watch the video above to learn more about the East Elementary Library. 

Swank’s husband didn’t just help install the Little Free Library at East Elementary, he also helped Jan Hodson install hers as well. Hodson’s library, primarily filled with children’s books, was the first library registered under Little Free Library in Athens back in 2015. It’s located on 37 Ohio Avenue, strategically placed near Factory Street Dance Studio.

The Little Free Library on Ohio Ave.

Hodson, who is also a WOUB volunteer, says she wanted to put it there, rather than her house, because more people, specifically children, would see it and use it.

“We’ve got parents sitting there waiting for their children to leave the dance classes, you’ve got children going in and out and past it every day when they go to dance classes, you’ve got children waiting for their parents to pick them up, so this all makes for a very healthy atmosphere for a Little Free Library,” Hodson said.

Aside from providing children with free books, this library also is a memorial for Patricia (Patsy) McGraner Barrington who passed away in 2011 from cancer. A plaque, that comes paired with the library, says Patsy’s name and describes how she loved reading and was a part of three book clubs in Athens. Jan says she wanted to dedicate it to her friend Patsy because they bonded together over books when both herself and Patsy were battling cancer.

A plaque dedicated to Patsy Barrington is on the back of the library.

“ We talked back and forth all the time and I would drop off books to her or suggest something and she would do the same for me,” Hodson said. “She was a reader, she was a teacher, she was a counselor, she was most of all, as her family says, she was a friend. She was a friend to so many people in this town.”

Jan takes pride in knowing her Little Free Library is the first to be registered in Athens and that it serves as a memorial for her friend who lived and raised her family on Ohio Ave. where the library stands today.  

“A lot of Little Free Libraries are not dedicated to anybody so it was important to dedicate the library to her,” Hodson said. “ She was a voracious reader and a friend to so many in this town so it was a natural thing to dedicate it to her.”

Whether they help families bond together, provide free books to children, or act as a memorial for a friend, Little Free Libraries allow people to express their artistic freedoms and hobbies while strengthening communities over a wide variety of literature.