Brookhaven residents Tray and Olivia Middleton, students at Montgomery Elementary, check out books at the little library at Lynwood Park.

Children visiting Lynwood Park can grab a book if they feel like it, courtesy of the Cross Keys Foundation. In fact, they can even keep it.

“You can take a book. You can take it home. You don’t have to pay for it,” Julia Russo, vice president of the foundation, told a group of neighborhood children at the park. “You can read the book to your friends, bring it back, or you don’t have to bring it back, you can just take it. You can sit on a park bench and read. You can have your mom and dad read it to you.”

Russo was speaking at a Sept. 25 unveiling of the latest in a string of Little Free Libraries it’s been installing all over town.

“This is a little tiny library but it’s a big idea,” Russo said. “Today is all about celebrating reading,” she told the crowd, which included Mayor J. Max Davis, the city council, and parks and city staff.

At the small outdoor libraries, children can choose and take a book with no library card or money. They can also leave a book for fellow readers.

The Cross Keys Foundation had previously installed libraries at Briarwood Park, Woodward Elementary, Ashford Memorial Park, Montclair Elementary and the Brookhaven Boys and Girls Club. The foundation recruits volunteer artists to decorate each little library, and local artist Sally Epstein designed and painted the Lynwood unit, which features an owl reading a book and the quote, “You are very wise.”

The Rotary Club of Brookhaven is sponsoring the Lynwood site.

“It’s a great tradition we have, supporting literacy,” said Tom Silveria, president of the Brookhaven Rotary. “This is just an extenstion of it.” Club members are volunteering as site stewards and will keep the library stocked.

Norma Paton Gibson, a Cross Keys Foundation director and former Cross Keys teacher, said the libraries are important for children in the area.

“This is phenomenal because Cross Keys . . . is 70 percent Hispanic and so a lot of [the students], when they come through the elementary school, don’t speak a lot of English,” she said. “These little libraries for them are wonderful [and] it’s wonderful for all kids.”

Lynwood Park is located at 3360 Osborne Road. For more information on the Cross Keys Foundation and its little library projects, visit www.CrossKeysFoundation.org

Ann Marie Quill

Ann Marie Quill is Associate Editor at Reporter Newspapers.