The Bertram Little Free Library lives up to its name in being both little and free.
The repurposed dollhouse, with its fresh coat of red paint, weatherproofing, and tiny school bell, sits on the west side of the Bertram Elementary School campus along FM 1174/Texas 243 North beside the school’s historical marker.
“It’s for everybody to use,” said Darlene Denton of the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District’s Parent Resource Center. “You just take a book. You can leave one, but you don’t have to.”
The district, elementary school, and the city of Bertram will hold a ribbon cutting for the little library at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 11.
While the city and the school both have libraries, Principal Alicia Harris pointed out they aren’t always open and not everyone has access to them. The Bertram Little Free Library is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
She said students are excited about it.
“The worse thing that could happen is we have more books in our community,” Harris said with a laugh.
The library holds books for all ages and interests, including nonfiction and fiction. And while it is a “library,” people don’t have to return any of the books they take, Harris said.
Little Free Libraries are popping up worldwide with more than 100,000 around the globe. They offer easy and free access to books and can be set up by organizations, churches, and even families.
Denton first heard about them several years ago, and her son-in-law built one for her that they put outside of their Burnet home. She would like to see a Little Free Library in every Burnet park and other spots around town.
“They’re really easy to do, once you have it built and up,” she said.
In 2018, Denton had another installed at BCISD’s Parent Resource Center. A high-traffic area, the library gets plenty of use and stays full as many people donate books.
She thought Bertram Elementary School would be a great place for a Little Free Library. When school is out, people often walk the small track adjacent to the gym and kids enjoy the playground.
During the summer, Denton spotted a pink dollhouse for sale by Whitney and Andice Goble of Bertram. When she told them her plan for it, the couple decided to donate it.
Denton then enlisted a group of volunteers to paint, repurpose, and weatherproof the structure. The schoolhouse design reflects the historic Bertram school building that sits about 100 feet away. The BCISD Maintenance Department set it up this fall.
Harris said the Little Free Library has been well received by the community. She’s heard that several parents want to build others to place across Bertram. And a Burnet High School student has reached out to her with his plans to build one for an apartment complex.
“I think that’s just awesome,” Denton said. “And, you know, that’s what I really want, more of these.”
After all, Harris reminded, more libraries mean more books in the community.