NEWBERRY — If you are ever wandering through Wise Street Park you may see a new addition that not all parks have.
The Hewitt Foundation installed Newberry’s first Little Free Library in Wise Street Park and officially unveiled the library Monday afternoon. Wise Street Park is located at 2420 Holloway St., Newberry.
“We want these children to be the best readers in the neighborhood because the reading level right now is third grade, but we want to get them to the fourth grade. Whatever it takes, we will be out here and we’re looking forward to utilizing this Little Library,” said Barbara Chapman, executive director of Newberry County Literacy Council. “The vision is larger than I am and apparently something is shining down on us because we all have that same vision. If we didn’t have that vision we wouldn’t be here.”
Chapman stressed the importance of increasing the reading levels in the community, saying that most children can recite their ABC’s, but they can’t identify the letters. She added that there has already been a positive response from the community and hopes that the library will continue to be utilized.
“We want to make sure that this is a safe place and that we continue to focus on reading,” Chapman said.
Scott Sawyer, director of City of Newberry Parks, Recreation and Tourism echoed Chapman’s thoughts.
“This is the first location we thought of and it’s a great park. Hopefully the kids will take advantage of this and they recognize that it’s in the neighborhood,” he said.
Craig Hewitt, founder of the Hewitt Foundation, added that the concept of the library is to give a book and take a book.
“If these kids come by, they can take one home and read it. If they are done with it they can bring it back and switch it out for another one. This should be a library that keeps on giving, so new books should be in there all the time. I think it will be a cool addition to have in the community that’s right here in our backyard,” he said.
The Little Free Library also has a website, littlefreelibrary.org. A zip code can be typed in and locations of registered Little Libraries will show up. The Little Free Library is the first registered library in Newberry.
“Beforehand, you would type it in and nothing would pop up. Now, this one will be showing up and registered probably by the end of the week. If you are on vacation or in downtown Columbia, just type in a zip code and all the registered locations will pop up, basically making your own scavenger hunt,” Hewitt said. “I think this is a neat little thing that promotes reading. Our kids love reading and we thought that this was a cool concept that fit our mission, giving back to families and kids and just being involved.”
Mayor Foster Senn added that with the addition of the Little Free Library in the community more children and adults can have access to reading material.
“This really turned out nice and it will be a great addition. I remember the bookmobiles used to come around a long time ago, but this is better because a child or adult can come by and get a book any time they want,” he said.
Hewitt and his wife Crystal operate the Hewitt Foundation in memory of their children Parker and Haley, both of whom passed away in a car accident. Each year the Hewitt 5K is held, a fundraiser that takes place on the last Saturday of June in memory of their children and throughout the year funds raised are used to complete various projects in the community.
For more information about the Hewitt Foundation, visit hewittfoundation.com.
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.