Little Free Libraries: Resident Crafts for a Good Cause

Resident Behind Several Libraries Found in Marshfield

This article is part of a series on the passionate people behind the Little Free Libraries in Marshfield. A list of locations can be found here.

Of the many Little Free Libraries found in Marshfield, a few are the creation of one resident.

Retired Marshfield school teacher Terry Gillespie constructed three of the Little Free Libraries in town.

“Two of my favorite hobbies are woodworking and stained glass art, which I have been actively doing most of my life. Hands-on activities are my first love and take most of my time,” he said. “Most of my furniture and home construction projects have been done for family members and First Presbyterian Church.”

Gillespie became interested in Little Free Libraries while visiting Hudson, WI, the birthplace of the first little library. His first project was commissioned by the Green Team at First Presbyterian Church for installation on the church property.

“It was a fun project and for a good cause, which is one of my primary reasons for taking on projects,” said Gillespie. Inspired by what he saw on location, the final result was a white, church-like structure with glass windows and a stained glass cross, with plenty of room inside for books. In accordance with the Green Team’s mission, solar lighting was installed, and the library was situated near the bike trail running along Lincoln Avenue.

Another of Gillespie’s creations was donated to the Personal Development Center, a domestic abuse shelter, for its Sheltering Hearts fundraiser. The library’s roof was constructed and painted to look like an overturned book.

“The ‘open book roof’ design just seemed like a fun idea, not knowing where it would be placed,” he said. After sketching out his ideas on paper, Gillespie gathered materials that could be re-purposed for the project and began construction in his shop.

English professor Julie Tharp bid on the library with her husband, Jack Farris, and another couple, history professor Jeff Kleiman and Kim Hartley of Thimbleberry Books.

“We wanted a library to encourage literacy in the community,” said Tharp. “We all believe in the power of reading.”

Their intention was to install the library on Wildwood Trail, which is not far from the Clinic and other recreational areas.

“We thought it was a good location because of the high foot traffic, and because kids skate and bike through there a lot,” said Tharp. “Jeff and Kim live on the bike trail, so our first thought was to put it behind their house, right on the trail, but we had to get permission from the City.”

They submitted the request to the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Committee, which requested the location be changed to its current location. The two couples continue to act as stewards.

“Kim supplies most of the books with backup copies from her store,” said Tharp. “We can always use children’s books too.”

Gillespie’s third library was constructed for a Marshfield resident to resemble the Cape Cod home where it was installed. Creative additions to the square, white-painted library include a handmade weather vane topped with a copper ship. The roof was made with copper flashing.

In addition to woodworking and glass art, Gillespie takes time to read nonfiction to learn about the environment, politics, and cultural mores. The libraries are an indicator of the importance he places on reading.

“Reading is a critical activity in order for the brain to develop language and thinking skills,” he said. “An educated society is more capable of making good choices for its citizens.”