The Arts Council, Downtown Huntsville, Inc. and the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library have launched the Downtown Book Boxes: free lending libraries in the city center. Inspired by the concept of Little Free Libraries, the three partners added some local color by having six area artists turn newspaper distribution boxes from The Huntsville Times into one-of-a-kind works of art designed to foster the love of reading.
“Downtown Huntsville, Inc. is excited to partner with the Arts Council and the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library to create our own unique version of the popular Little Free Library program,” said Chad Emerson, president and CEO of Downtown Huntsville Inc. “Combining art and learning through vintage Huntsville Times newspaper racks repurposed by local artists is an eclectic and fun way to promote learning in the city center.”
The Arts Council conducted an RFP process in which artists from across North Alabama were invited to submit their proposals for repurposing the newspaper boxes into works of art. The six artists chosen to make their mark are Willette Battle, Susie Garrett, Chandler Hayes, Amanda Massey, Gina Percifull and Logan Tanner.
“The Arts Council is always pleased to partner with other organizations in ways that allow us to further enhance community creativity and engagement to enrich the quality of life in our city,” said Allison Dillon-Jauken, executive director of The Arts Council. “Downtown Book Boxes are a wonderful way to offer everyday interactions with visual arts while helping to spread the love of the literary arts. We look forward to seeing how these boxes evolve as members of the community take advantage of these free lending libraries.”
Downtown Book Boxes will be available for use on July 23 at six locations throughout the downtown corridor. The locations are Southside Square, Northside Square, 200 Westside Square, outside Belk Hudson Lofts, in Big Spring Park East near the YMCA and one surprise location.
“We hope people will visit all of them, pick up a book and take in each of these little pieces of public art,” said Dillon-Jauken.
Friends of the Library will initially stock the book boxes and members of the public are encouraged to borrow a book and return it or leave another book in its place. The Library will also check in periodically to check stock levels and replenish as needed.
“We are very excited to be a part of an initiative that brings books and people together,” said Laurel Best, executive director of Huntsville-Madison County Public Library. “With books generously donated by the Friends of the Library, we are taking libraries to the people. Connecting the public with free reading materials and resources is what we do, and this project is another way for us to bring the library into the communities that we serve.”