Fort Mill Times

They’re little, they’re free and one just rolled into Van Wyck

Book seekers check out the titles in the adult section of Van Wyck's Little Free Library.
Book seekers check out the titles in the adult section of Van Wyck's Little Free Library.

Little Free Library No. 45447 has rolled into the Lancaster County community of Van Wyck.

The take-a-book, return-a-book exchange was built inside the restored 1917 passenger wait station depot that now sits on the grounds of the Van Wyck Community Development Center at 5036 Old Hickory Road.

Fittingly, the Little Free Library carries a railroad theme and a mission of community unity, literacy and fun.

“As the first official LFL in this part of Lancaster County, the Van Wyck Community Development Club has set a high bar,” said Clare McConaughay, a Lancaster County library board trustee. “The looks on the kids’ faces when the LFL train was unveiled were total amazement, and they couldn't wait to pull out the books.”

The Little Free Library works on the honor system. Anyone can contribute or take books. There are no library cards, late fees or acceptable noise levels.

The Van Wyck Community Development Club sponsored the project and held an unveiling and dedication on Sunday afternoon. The effort was the vision of resident Pat Oglesby and the craftsmanship of Richard Vaughan.

There are more than 50,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 U.S. states and in more than 70 countries around the world. The Van Wyck library is the second in Lancaster County. Several have popped up in Fort Mill and Tega Cay and elsewhere in York County over the past couple of years.

“I won’t be at all surprised if it is chosen as a featured LFL in their national Facebook postings,” said McConaughay, a Sun City resident who commended the community’s generosity and caring nature.

“This community saw a need and found a way to fill it by coming together and volunteering to make it happen,” she said. “What a great example for our county!”

The project has been seven months in the making and began with the concern that local children don’t always have a way to get to the library. An avid reader herself, Oglesby wanted to bring a quality selection of books to Van Wyck through the Little Free Library.

“We wanted to have the Little Free Library to bring people in the community together at a central location and offer reading opportunities for all ages,” Oglesby said. “It was wonderful to see how excited the children and adults were to have the library.”

It was also a gratifying day for designer and craftsman, Vaughan, whose family roots run deep in Van Wyck. He built one train car, called the Short Line Railroad, to hold books for children; the Van Wyck Express library car has books for adults.

“It was worth all the time it took to build when I saw the kids,” said Vaughan, whose train car designs are framed inside the wait station.

Vaughan helped save the Seaboard Airline Railway wait station in 2001. He is delighted that the historic station has a new purpose, and he is working to add benches to the inside the building so patrons have a place to read.

Members of the Van Wyck community and Friends of the Del Webb Library donated the books.

For more information on the Little Free Library, visit littlefreelibrary.org.

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