RUSSELLVILLE, Mo. - Travelers of Route C west of Russellville will notice a miniature house, too large for a birdhouse, on a post near the Molls' house.
Eugene and Gladys Moll have joined the Little Free Library movement, which has grown to more than 9,000 since it began in 2010.
After seeing their first Little Free Library in Wisconsin and then reading up on the project to surpass Andrew Carnegie's free library initiative, the Molls decided to set up a Little Free Library for Russellville.
The grand opening for the box on the Cole and Moniteau county line will be held from 4-7 p.m. today at 54933 Route C, and will include refreshments.
The concept is not to compete with but to complement local libraries, Eugene said.
"We thought we'd just try it."
The Molls have filled the 2-foot-wide, waterproof box with a variety of their favorite books - mysteries, animals, non-fiction, children's books and inspirational.
Passers-by are invited to take a book, leave a book or both.
"We're looking forward to seeing what shows up," Gladys said.
There are no due dates, late fees or library cards, and the doors are always open.
"In this way, the library belongs to everyone - neighbors, friends and people we do not even know yet," Eugene said. "Anyone can use it."
The retired pastor and secretary have sent out flyers to their rural neighbors and anticipate word of mouth will soon spread.
"I don't know if anybody has heard about it here," Gladys said.
But it has been spreading from Wisconsin to more than 9,000 sites in all 50 states and at least 30 countries.
When Carnegie first set his goal to fund more than 2,500 free libraries in the growing United States a century ago, books were the primary source for learning.
Although technology delivers information in new formats today, not everyone has access to it or knows how to use it, Gladys noted.
"And, it's still nice to just hold a book in your hands."
The Molls love to read, as do their siblings and children. They were introduced to the Little Free Library through their daughter, a librarian at the University of Nebraska.
Attending grade school in
Russellville, Gladys remembers the thrill of visiting the monthly Bookmobile in addition to the school library.
"Books take you out of Russellville, to other countries and states or to see how other families and people live; it's broadening," she said.
Studying in a one-room, country school for eight years, Eugene said "there was not much access to knowledge beyond books and newspapers."
With the post in place, the box mounted and a bench underneath the afternoon shade tree, the Russellville Little Free Library is ready.
The Molls will maintain the structure and make sure there are books to be had.
But with winter coming, they expect traffic will take advantage of the safe, off-the-highway location.
"Hopefully, there will be more people reading," Gladys said.
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