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First-ever library opens in Clarence

by on December 12, 2019 11:56 AM

CLARENCE — Christine Surovec is the steward for the first-ever library in Clarence.

It’s a Little Free Library, and is sits on the corner of Clarence Road and Church Street. Surovec said the community is excited about it. And, she is too.

The history of Little Free Library goes back to 2011. The first LFL was launched a year after Todd Bol set a little house on a post in front of his home in Hudson, Wis., in 2011. Bol was a teacher and used leftover wood from a garage renovation project for the first little library on a stick. He and his friend, Rick Brooks, registered Little Free Library as a nonprofit in 2012. Bol died in 2018 at age 62.

LFLs started popping up in many states and other countries, including Brazil. Many other countries followed with their own variations. There is a website where those interested can find free instructions to make their own LFL. Go to

The Clarence Little Free Library was established on Nov. 26. The LFL organization has chartered more than 90,000 of them. The Clarence one is no. 95,401.

Surovec tries to check the library regularly and deliver books, and posts the fliers that she provides for the box. Anyone can come and take a book or leave one. It’s all free and a great boost for the communities where the little houses/boxes are located. For most library owners, the motivation is to spread the joy of reading.

Surovec was a natural for such a project. She retired as a librarian from the Paterno Library and worked in the Bald Eagle Area High School Library also. With her belief that everyone should have access to books, she initiated the steps to make a Little Free Library in Clarence a reality.

Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI), 540 N. Harrison Road, Bellefonte, built the basic box for the Clarence LFL and all other items were donated. The labor was supplied by Surovec’s husband, Jim Surovec, and her brother, Ray Cingel. When applying for a charter, the organizations are required to choose a sign to be attached to the box. Surovec chose a white aluminum one to attach to the front.

Surovec brings books to restock the library on a regular basis. She has other people who donate books for the LFL also. She has picked up books at Cool Beans in Bellefonte and from the Bellefonte Women’s Club, and others who contact her.

It’s been said that if you can read, the whole world is available to you. The LFL movement is just one way to hurry that along.


Connie Cousins covers Centre County for the Gazette.
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