With the popularity of electronic readers soaring, old-fashioned paper books are becoming a thing of the past. But not for Jennifer Banville, who two years ago started a mini-book club with her friend where they only read the old school way. When she stumbled upon a website called Little Free Library, with a motto of “take a book, return a book,” Banville knew she had to build one.

Banville searched all around her hometown of Granite Bay and couldn’t find a location. After buying a second home on Donner Lake in 2013, Banville realized Truckee would be the perfect place for the library, but when no public locations worked out she knew it would have to be on private land. One day while visiting Sticks Market on Donner Lake she said, “Holy moly, this is the spot.”

Sticks Market is located in close proximity to her house and also serves as a school bus stop. Banville easily convinced Sticks Market co-owner David Martin to get on board and allow the library to be located in front of the store. “I have already had people tell me what a wonderful idea [it is],” Martin said. “[I] wanted to support her and her idea.”


Martin’s donation of the land was just the start of the community help that made the library a reality. The library is built out of an old kitchen cabinet that Banville’s husband, Jack, restored. Coincidentally, around this time Banville was getting a new roof at her Donner Lake home and Brad Mills Roofing agreed to donate scraps of roofing for the library. Brown Bear Inc. came through by digging the hole for the pedestal and pouring the cement. When Jack went to install the library, he ran into the local mailman, who was on his route and helped Jack position the new library onto its pedestal.

“The community came through for us,” Banville said.

The first-ever Little Free Library was built in 2009 in Wisconsin as a tribute to founder Todd Bol’s mom, a former school teacher. Five years later, Little Free Library is now a nonprofit organization with nearly 15,000 locations around the world — each library is designed differently and customized to the area. The organization’s website provides the stewards of each library with resources to keep each library functioning. Banville and her niece, Amber McPherson, are both the stewards of the Donner Lake Little Free Library; one of their duties is printing labels for each book. When full, the Little Free Library will hold 30 books, half of which will be children’s books.

Banville hopes this library will be used by school children who, like her, enjoy holding an actual book. “We are excited to bring the Donner Lake Little Free Library to our community and hope it will help to inspire in both children and adults the magic of books, and to promote literacy for all,” Banville said.

Read more about Little Free Library at littlefreelibrary.org

~ Comment on this column below.


  • Karin Carrasco

    Karin Carrasco, Moonshine Ink’s office administrator, has lived in Truckee since 2003 after moving here from New Jersey. Carrasco studied speech communications and journalism at University of Nevada, Reno. Carrasco spends her free time enjoying her passion for dance at InnerRhythms and she also volunteers with the Truckee Donner Historical Society as well as Trails & Vistas.

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