Mebane Police Department erects free library at Holt Street Park

The Mebane Police Department dedicated the “Little Learners of Mebane” Free Library box at Holt Street Park on Thursday, March 28. The project was spearheaded by Officers Erica Cherry (immediate left of library) and Daniel Neilsen (immediate right of library). The department hopes to place more library boxes around Mebane in the future.

The Mebane Police Department held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the “Little Learners of Mebane” Little Free Library on Thursday afternoon, March 28 at Holt Street Park. Team members of the department’s Community Oriented Policing (COP) team created a free library box so children in the community could have access to free books.

Officer Erica Cherry said the idea came about when her and a fellow officer were thinking of what to do for the COP project.

“First, I wanted to give out books, so I talked with Officer (Daniel) Nielsen about the Each One Teach One program and he said, ‘Let’s do something better than that. Let’s get a box so they can get their own books like the Free Library,’” she said. “So, we decided to put the two together and we built the box.”

Officer Daniel Nielsen said the idea is for both adults and children to bring a book and pick out a new one.

“It’s in no shape or form strictly for children,” Nielsen said. “Adults are welcomed to participate. We want for  adults to enjoy it too.”

Cherry said after  completing the project the next step was coming up with a location for the box.  

“We went back and forth on where to put it and some suggested the new park and others suggested Holt Street, so it can bring life back to the park,” she said.

Nielsen said Holt Street park was chosen because not many people know about it.

“It’s tucked back in a corner and we have a brand new, very large, very beautiful park and we don’t want the little parks to be forgotten,” he said.“It’s a great spot within walking distance of a lot of homes and they don’t have to cross the train tracks or Highway 70. It is a very convenient location for people.”

Cherry said the free library will impact children in the community in a positive way.

“It’s accessible and it is (within) walking distance. They can come to the park to get books if they don’t have a library card or a parent who doesn’t have one,” she said. “They can read the books and swap them out for different ones when they finish reading them. It’s an opportunity for them to read on their own without relying on someone else to pick out the books for them.”

Nielsen said the main goal is to get adults help teach children to read and not just rely on the education system.

“It’s truly the responsibility of one generation to pass on (knowledge) to the next generation with language arts, math, science and especially reading,” he said.

Both Nielsen and Cherry hope to places other libraries around Mebane.

“This is phase one and we’ve been looking into the Veterans Garden. It’s another beautiful area where you can go sit and relax,” Nielsen said. “Lake Michael is another place that’s tucked away in the back part of Mebane. It’s extremely peaceful to just go out there and sit. It would be nice for someone to grab a book and enjoy the outdoors.”

“Once we get this one going we will talk about setting up more free libraries around town,” Cherry added. “We even considered using maps to show people where the boxes are located in the community. We hope to continue giving children the opportunity to access free books.”

“If you enjoy reading just get out there and read. Please go out with your child and try influencing their life positively by reading,” Nielsen said.

There are more than 80,000 registered Little Free Library book-sharing boxes in 91 countries worldwide, according to the Little Free Library website. This year marks the 10th anniversary for the non-profit organization.