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Pi Beta Phi opens Little Library to promote literacy

Campus community welcome to exchange books at new site

By Erica Irish


Franklin College's Pi Beta Phi sorority held a ribbon-cutting Wednesday for its new Little Library, the result of a year-long effort to bring the book exchange site to campus.

Jessica Halsmer, vice president of community relations for the chapter, and faculty adviser Jessica Mahoney led the project to bring a third Little Library to Franklin, Indiana.

Mahoney explained the Little Library on campus, located on the west side of Hamilton Library in a painted red brick case, was supposed to open in the spring. But COVID-19 disrupted those plans, so Mahoney and Halsmer rescheduled the event to September, recognized as National Literacy Month.

"There's a lot of opportunity and possibility going forward," Mahoney said.

Pi Beta Phi President Sydney Utterback, Vice President of Community Relations Jessica Halsmer and Faculty Adviser Jessica Mahoney pose with the library. Photo by Erica Irish.

Jessica Halsmer's father, Jim Halsmer, constructed the library, and Tom Patz, assistant vice president of physical facilities, helped the chapter secure a spot on campus. The chapter also partnered with Office of Global Education Director Jennifer Cataldi. Jessica Halsmer said Cataldi helped donate some of the first books and advised the chapter from her experience hosting a Little Library in front of her home.

The Johnson County Public Library is also a partner. The Franklin branch near the college is available to donate used books that are no longer in circulation, for example.

Jessica Halsmer said she hopes the library promotes wider interest in reading on campus. She also asked students to be inventive with the space, encouraging them to exchange items like textbooks if they no longer need them.

"It's sometimes hard to explain what literacy means," Jessica Halsmer said. "So I hope people participate and make the most of the library. It's mean to spread literacy in the community."

Moving forward, members of Pi Beta Phi will help with the library's upkeep as part of their regular duties.

Pi Beta Phi will next host its annual book drive Sept. 22 in the Napolitan Student Center.


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