MANSFIELD -- The Mansfield/Richland County Public Library is always looking for a way to expand its reach.
Say "hello" to the Free Little Libraries.
"Really, anyone can do it," said library Director Chris May. "I've seen people have them on their front yard, but I got the idea from the Mentor Public Library."
May said his library is thus far responsible for five Free Little Libraries around the county.
Books inside the box are available to all and everyone is encouraged to place a book to share with others.
"It's basically take a book, leave a book. But no one is going to hold you to leaving a book if you don't have one," May said. "It's a really cool idea and way to promote reading, without necessarily having bricks and mortar."
The library's Free Little Libraries are located mostly in northern parts of the county, he said.
One is at Marshall Park in Ontario, one is in the Richland Mall, two are located in Shiloh and the newest one is at the 179th Airlift Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard.
"We're still working on one or two we may put in," he said.
The books, May said, are a great way for those who want to read, but may be unable to get new books.
"It's keeping your skills up," May said. "(Reading) just keeps your mind sharp, it gives you something to think about and gives you something productive to do. Just having that available allows you to do that.
"If we don't have a brick or mortar library in that area, this allows someone a chance to walk or bike and get something. It just promotes a love of reading," he said.
Three weeks ago, the newest Free Little Library was opened at the 179th
"It's open to members of the base. Active military and veterans," May said.
The base is not open to the public.
"So, it's hitting a very different type of community for us. A lot of the members of the base have children themselves, and so much time on the base. Going to the library is sometimes a time constraint for all of us. This gives them another way to check something out that is new for them or for their children as well. This is a really cool partnership," May said.
CMSGT April Gunnoe said she hopes the new library can lend a hand in education for the airmen.
"The value of education was emphasized to me my whole life by my late grandfather ,who could always be found with a book in hand. My hope is that the (Free Little Library) will assist our 179th community in their personal development goals through the sharing of books and other resources. I hope that this project leads to others that spark a desire for continued education and collaboration among our airmen."