WAXAHACHIE

Just a few weeks ago two gentlemen unloaded a retired Daily Light newspaper rack onto the front porch of the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame. Only it wasn't for newspapers, nor did it have any inside.

The side of the now-white metal rack reads “Little Library” handpainted in black and it is stuffed full of books.

Dr. Jamal Rasheed, Ellis County African American Hall of Fame executive director, witnessed the men place the box on the property, give it a quick wipe down and leave. It did not dawn on him to ask who they were with because he assumed it was part of the recent collaboration with the Nicholas P. Sims Library.

Even though Rasheed has no idea who is behind the Little Library, he is grateful. “The box out there is to give the kids in the community an opportunity to share and exchange and get free books,” Rasheed explained.

Barbra Claspell, Sims Library director, said she too has no idea where the box came from or who installed it. She assumed it was from another organization that is in the midsts of spreading small boxed libraries around town.

About 20 books for a variety of ages now sit inside the box, ready to be opened and enjoyed. Book titles include, "The Complete Guide to the 50 States," "Ark of the Liberties," and "The Rose-bush of a Thousand Years," just to name a few.

Rasheed has not received any feedback on the Little Library yet, only questions of its purpose. Rasheed said the Little Library is conveniently located near a bus stop around the corner with a significant amount of children. Rasheed will consider relocating the library to the edge of the property so passersby can have a better visual and accessibility to the box.

Claspell said the recent collaboration with Rasheed has been positive.

“We are trying to get over there and see what we can do," Claspell elaborated. "I think we are going to get over there and do a storytime once a month in January hopefully. We have a lot going on right now, and we are just trying to reach that community as well as keep it going.”

“It is going to help bring the community that we are identifying with to the resources and things that are available at Sims Library,” Rasheed reconciled.

Children reading sessions will be held at the museum, and the annual MLK oratory contest will take place in the Lyceum later this year.

Through the partnership with the library and the museum, the two directors want to encourage more of the Black community to utilize the library as well as bring resources from the library to the museum.

Rasheed is currently working with Nicole Matthews, programming and outreach coordinator for the library, on establishing a section in the library dedicated to Black authors and books about Black history. Rasheed pointed out this could be a universal spot for Black history.

Through a long-term collaboration, a dream of Rasheed’s is for the Sims Library to have the “largest collection of books for and by African Americans in Ellis County.”

“That, in essence, is my goal. To bridge — like I’ve always been trying to do — the current east side of the community to the rest of Waxahachie,” Rasheed affirmed.

The Little Library is available for anyone to utilize or donate books to and is located in front of the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame at 441 East Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Waxahachie.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450