Lemont teen hopes to encourage reading

Saede Eifrig really likes to read and hopes a tiny, wooden library she built with her family will inspire others to read, too.

Saede read an article about the Little Free Library concept at her grandparents’ house — longtime Lemont residents Ron and Sue Smith — and wanted to create her own. The idea began in Wisconsin, and now more than 3,000 little boxes containing books for the sharing exist around the world.

The nonprofit Little Free Library hopes to encourage literacy with the tiny libraries that allow visitors to borrow, return and exchange books in a local way.

Saede’s little library has its home at the Café Lemont, and gives visitors a taste of home because it looks like the John I. Thompson Grain Elevator and Coal Sheds — The Granary — a historic landmark dear to her grandparents’ hearts.

Instead of grain, 13-year-old Saede’s granary holds books — picture books for children on the lower shelves and stories for grown-ups on the higher shelves.

“We had a little library in our house, but it’s kind of boring since we’ve read all of the books already,” Saede said. “It’s a really cool building project and you have new books. You can also give people your old favorites.”

She said building the mini-granary was a frustrating task, but her mom, Penny, helped along the way.

“I think we added a lot of cool little features,” including matching windows and a chalkboard, Saede said.

And the wood was picked up in the village, formerly a Swedish bed.

“We started with pieces of wood we picked up in Lemont during the last days of ‘riff-raffing,’ ” said Penny Eifrig, noting the family “loves” to participate in the event to conserve resources and provide project supplies.

Penny Eifrig owns and operates a publishing company and provided most of the books to start her daughter’s library.

They considered placing The Granary model outside, but Saede said their building skills “weren’t quite good enough” to expose it to the elements. After considering the post office, Penny Eifrig thought of the café.

“There are a lot of people who read and go in and out of the café,” Saede said.

The little library was installed earlier this month, and while Saede said she hasn’t stopped by to check on it, people have asked her about the concept, “which I thought was cool.”

“I hope it’s one of the things they do when they go to the café,” she said.

She next hopes to raise the $35 required to register her library with the national organization, which would place it on a map of the little libraries around the world.

Another Little Free Library already stands in the College Heights neighborhood of State College, registered by Alexandra Broyles.

If Saede Eifrig raises more money than is required to register her library, she said the donations will help fund the preservation of The Granary. Those interested in helping can do so through the Café Lemont, 321-4337 or the Lemont Village Association, 238-1288.