Story and Photos by Alice Gerard
Senior Contributing Writer
The Grand Island Memorial Library is planning to add a reading garden to the grassy area next to the building that faces the parking lot. The library will be called the Richard Earne Memorial Reading Garden, as a tribute to the late Richard Earne, who was a member of the Grand Island Rotary Club, as well as a member of the library board of trustees. He died on Sept. 18, 2022.
Board of trustees Vice President Jill Banaszak said plans are for the garden to be a place where people can sit down and read or play a game of chess. Events, such as storytime, could be held in the Reading Garden. Furnishings for the Reading Garden include a “Little Free Library.” The library received an Earth Day grant to cover the cost of that addition.
The Little Free Library that is to be in the Reading Garden will hold books and other reading materials about gardening and Earth sustainability.
“The plan is to have this right out in the reading garden area,” Banaszak said. “The Friends of the Grand Island Memorial Library would stock it with gardening books, gardening handouts, earth sustainability, information. We will have a little sign that says, ‘Enjoy our gardening information while you’re here. If you need to take it home with you, please feel free to do so.’ ”
Plans are to maintain a grassy area, Banaszak said: “We want to keep it natural and looking more like a garden. We also have plans to extend the garden.” The area will be enclosed and there will be a border of clumps of tall grasses.
Other furnishings planned for the Reading Garden include Adirondack chairs, a table with a built-in chessboard, and possibly a glider, Banaszak said. Chess players could go into the library and check out a chess set available for borrowing, Banaszak explained. She noted the library’s Wi-Fi works in the garden area for anyone who needs to access the internet.
“You could use your phone and your laptop, while you’re out there, enjoying the beautiful setting,” Banaszak said.
Because of requirements of the grant funding that was provided for the Little Free Library, the plan is to have the Reading Garden completed by Earth Day of 2024. The library has been running fundraisers to raise more funds for the garden. The first fundraiser was a “Touch-a-Truck,” which was held July 5. For that event, 38 toy trucks were donated to the library to be raffled off. The library is also planning to hold a chicken barbecue, either late in the summer or early in the fall. In addition, the library will accept donations for the Reading Garden. Library Director Bridgette Heinz said people can drop off their donations to the library at any time the library is open.