Milford Little Library reopens for beach readers

MILFORD — There’s nothing like relaxing at the beach with a book. But for those who forgot to bring the latest bestseller, the Friends of the Milford Library have them covered. The Gulf Beach “Little Library” is now open for 24/7 for readers to take or leave books.

The Little Library had closed for more than a year after being damaged in a 2019 storm. Pat Simon and his three grandsons, the original builders, repaired and improved the Little Library last year.

“We had a great time bonding in my workshop using new and recycled products to make it strong enough to withstand the weather on the beach,” said Simon. “Setting the Little Library in place gave us that ‘feel good feeling’ that we did something positive for the people of Milford.”

The Gulf Beach Little Library is one of three in Milford. The other two locations are at the Firehouse Art Gallery, 81 Naugatuck Ave., and the Milford YMCA. Little Libraries started in 2009 in Wisconsin, and were modeled on small one-room schoolhouses.

Unlike the Gulf Beach location, which is seasonal, the other two spots are open year-round to borrow or swap a book.

A fourth location, at the Milford train station, is closed this year due to the train station’s cafe also being closed.

“Little Libraries are a fun way to encourage reading, strengthen the community and see Milford,” said library friends President Ashley Volkens. “On any given day, you can find a variety of children’s, young adult and adult books across a variety of genres.”

During the pandemic, Volkens said, the Little Libraries remained open and stocked, offering bookworms the ability to take a book or leave a book while maintaining COVID protocols.

Volkens stressed that space in the Little Libraries is limited, and is to be used only for books. Food, toys and other goods should not be left at a Little Library, and no books should be left outside of the Little Library box.

The friends’ Little Library program is now in its sixth year, Volkens said. The free service is maintained by a group of volunteer stewards, led by Judy Salemme, that visit each location regularly to make sure the library is stocked with books, and perform any necessary maintenance or repairs.

The Friends of the Milford Public Library is a non-profit 501(c)3 volunteer organization. All proceeds go toward funding library programs and expenses not covered by the city budget. For information about the organization, email milfordlib.friends@gmail.com.