ROME — Rome isn’t necessarily known for having robust entertainment opportunities, but thanks to two local women the town now has one more to-do option — one that not only offers recreation but also education, especially for children.

One may not know exactly what the Little Free Library of Rome, PA is at first glance as it doesn’t look like a traditional library. In fact, it is actually a wooden bench with an almost birdhouse-looking box standing tall on each side.

The charming bench however has been built to encourage literacy within Rome’s citizens, as the town does not have a full scale library of its own.

The “boxes” perched above the Little Free Library bench are each filled with books that locals are welcome to borrow. Community members may also choose to keep a book of their choice or bring their own books to donate to the little library.

Little Free Library, the group which Rome’s branch is part of, “is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world,” according to their website.

Co-founder of the Little Free Library of Rome Amanda Manning said the project started when she held a book drive shortly after local public libraries closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Community members donated over $900 which she used to purchase new children’s books.

Manning posted her book drive on social media and was soon contacted by Little Free Library of Rome co-founder Twylia Bullock, who shared that she had “fell in love” with the idea of creating a Little Free Library in Rome Park to honor her late son Dustin W. Middaugh after helping Mary Raffin with her Little Free Library in Towanda.

Manning said “let’s do it” and the women moved forward making the dream a reality with the help of Chad Johnson, who built the library Bullock had imagined. Bullock and Manning then filled it with books from Manning’s book drive.

“Because he loved books so much, this was a way to honor him,” Bullock stated.

The Little Free Library of Rome is now open for readers to come explore and a grand opening will be held once the dedication plaque is completed, according to Bullock.

More information, as well as activities such as a Summer Reading Challenge in which children can win a prize for completing literary activities, can be found on the Little Free Library of Rome, PA Facebook page.

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