A few months ago, a little library mysteriously appeared on the front porch of the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame. It turns out, however, that the repurposed newspaper rack is not the only one located in Waxahachie.
After the initial article published in the Daily Light on Jan. 9, a member of the Central Presbyterian Church came forward to humbly accept credit for the little library box and share the mission behind it.
Patty Dickerson is a member of the church and heads the ministry team behind the Little Libraries — Earth Care Congregation. Dickerson explained the group is a national designation earned by Presbyterian USA.
She learned about the ministry team in 2014, which is the same year it was established at Central Presbyterian. As Dickerson analyzed projects other related groups conducted as mission work, she came across the Little Libraries.
Karl Goss and his father, Jim, both joined the ministry team that same year and have been responsible for the construction and installation of the library boxes.
“Being able to repurpose and reuse materials is engrained in us,” Karl explained.
Dickerson knew the two were partnered in business with Waxahachie Architectural Salvage and reckoned the two could play an essential role in constructing boxes that would spread literacy around town.
Dickerson composed a rough sketch of her vision and asked the father-son duo to build the first Little Library. The men used old wood that would have been thrown away to create posts with a cupboard, doors and a shelf inside.
Karl explained that his father serves as the master engineer when it comes to construing a product with very few new materials. The little library box at the ECAAHF differentiated from the rest. Instead of a wooden structure, the men repurposed a retired and donated Waxahachie Daily Light newspaper box.
The boxes were modified to eliminate the spring-loaded shelf and remove the locking mechanism. In 2017, the same concept was utilized at Hope Clinic for people to place baby items in for others to use after hours.
“With a little imagination you can make it work,” Karl said.
The first little library was created and planted on the property where Bethlehem Revisited stands.
“Well, it was a huge success,” Dickerson said. “Kids in the neighborhood would congregate around it, ask for new books and ‘When are you going to fill it up?’ It was really popular.”
There are now five little libraries around Waxahachie. Even though the first one was established in 2014, the following did not come until 2016, with the most recent one delivered to the ECAAHF in January.
Little Libraries are now located at Covenant Life on College Street, Water Street Baptist Church, and another at the pocket park in downtown Waxahachie on Rogers Street.
Dickerson simply emailed all the Presbyterian Church members about children’s books that have been outgrown. One school that changed its curriculum even donated material that became obsolete.
“And the books started pouring in,” Dickerson emphasized.
Dickerson was thrilled when Dr. Jamal Rasheed, the executive director of the ECAAHF, was interested in housing a little library because she had tried to get churches in Waxahachie East to participate. The Little Library on the ECAAHF porch focuses on historical topics and more specifically, Black history.
Every two weeks, Dickerson checks on the libraries to ensure they are clean and filled and cycle books through. Dickerson noted the new Little Library has had a lot of uses.
“His books keep disappearing,” Dickerson explained. “I’ve filled it up three times in the past month. So we are really happy about that.”
Dickerson was not sure if another box would be created in the near future, but if a business, church or an individual were interested, she would be more than happy to assist.
“The deal that I make with all these places is that we will fill it up the first few times, and then you ask your congregation,” Dickerson explained. “The idea is that they take it over and promote it themselves.”
If an individual is interested in book donations, they can be accepted at the church office, located 402 College St.
The Earth Care Congregation recently installed a Little Pantry near the Little Library located on the Bethlehem Revisited site that offers food.
“It’s going great now. We can’t keep enough food in there,” Dickerson expressed.
There is also an active partnership with Marvin Elementary where members of the mission team take food to students to enjoy over the weekend and breakfast. Dickerson said the church was designated a “hunger-action church” in 2018. “What that means is that we care about people being hungry and we are trying to do something about it,” she elaborated.
Another initiative behind the Presbyterian Church is the World Wear Project. A big blue bin is located on the church property where clothing and household goods are recycled an distributed to women in shelters by a Dallas company. The church earns a fraction of a dollar for every pound given, which is then put into mission work.
Related story: Little Library anonymously donated to Ellis County African American Hall of Fame
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450