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Area children welcome to borrow books from Little Free Library

By Rebecca Holland
Aug. 30, 2014 at 10 p.m.

<p>There is a little library built in the front of Eddie and Betty Simmons' home on Jasper Street.</p>

There is a little library in the front yard of Eddie and Betty Waugh in Marshall.

Earlier this year, Betty Waugh was watching a television program when she heard about the Little Free Library program from TV personality Rick Rowe.

According to Waugh, the story of the Little Free Library is wide. It began in 2009, when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books, put it on a post in his front yard, and had a sign on it, that said, "Free Books – Take One, Return One."

It didn't take long for the project to become viral.

"They are little birdhouses basically," Waugh said.

And the project captured the Marshall woman's heart for a number of reasons.

"I told my husband that day I wanted to do that … and within a week and half, he had the truck pulled up in the drive and called me outside so we could unload it … a giant birdhouse," Waugh said.

But this giant birdhouse held a special meaning for Waugh. Her grandson, Zachary, passed away at the age of two, and Waugh thought this would be a perfect way to pay tribute to him.

In fact, there is a special plaque that says the free little library was done in memory of Zachary Taylor Williams.

"He died of bacterial mengitis," Waugh said.

She painted the house that would hold the books red, filled it with children's books, and pretty soon, neighbors would stop by and ask what that was in her yard.

"After that, parents coming from school with their kids would stop and ask about it."

The Waughs' home is on Jasper Street – not far from David Crockett Elementary School.

"So far we have not had any problems with vandalism or anything. In fact, the kids will still come knock on the door and ask me about the books or tell me that they were getting them," Waugh said, "but I tell them they don't have to do it … All they have to do is when they get a book is return one."

Waugh appreciates the politeness of the children who do come.

"There is a brother and sister who come up to the house – they won't get on the grass or cut through the yard, they walk down the driveway and on the sidewalk, and knock on the door and tell me what they are doing, and then they will walk back the same way, and go get a book," she said, "and I don't say anything. Their parents taught them right."

Books have come from various donations, and Waugh will purchase some. She tries to stick to just children's books, and could use some more.

"I don't want to put something out there that the little kids shouldn't have. I had some teenagers come by one day and tell me they would build us another one so we could put older kids' books in it, but I just don't want to take that chance right now."

Those who have come to get books have mostly been boys.

"Nine out of ten are little boys."

All and all, the Free Little Library in the Waugh front yard has been a fine tribute for Zachary. Or at least Betty Waugh thinks so.

"One day, right after we put it up, it was close to Zachary's birthday, and I saw a little boy getting a book, and I just wanted to cry," she said.

For more information about the Waughs' Free Little Library call Betty at (903) 930-8468 or stop by 907 Jasper St. in Marshall.

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