Mt. Ephraim residents Jade Gasper and Alisha Simons wanted to do something that would help foster a spirit of community in their little town. They had an idea to start a town book share that people could walk to, visit, and participate in.
Having previously lived in Philadelphia, Gasper and Simons were familiar with the concept of the Little Free Library organization, a worldwide book share network. The Little Free Library uses local residents as stewards of little “book share” buildings to create a little community space for people to frequent. It is also a place for everyone to share their books and to take a moment to sit and read while there.
And so, Mt. Ephraim’s Little Free Library was born.
While the pair recognizes the value and benefits afforded to Mt. Ephraim residents by being part of the larger Camden County Library System, they were “bummed” about not having a book store, a coffee shop or a café. “We don’t have that township library or quieter space for folks to walk to, sit, meet, play games, read, chat, and socialize,” Gasper said.
The main street, Kings Highway, lacks a place for residents to go or hang out. Gasper said: “Mt. Ephraim is a great small town. As active newcomers, we do a lot of walking around town and have met some great, friendly people. We know that there’s a sense of community here, especially among the residents who have been here a long time.”
She thought a Little Free Library would be a great addition to Mt. Ephraim. “Our town has cute, little parklet and memorial spaces, but not a lot of foot traffic to or through them.”
Gasper took Simons’ secret dream of owning a book shop and combined it with her passion for books and created a Little Free Library that made the perfect gift.
The project had the support of Mt. Ephraim Borough and Gasper credits Borough Clerk, Terry Shannon, for being instrumental in helping to pitch it to Mayor Joe Wolk and the Commissioners.
Jim Beebe and his Public Works team installed the Little Free Library at just the right spot at the parklet we picked for the library’s home, Gasper said.
As for the library box, Gasper handmade it herself, named it “Sha’s Shelf,” and had it registered with the Little Free Library organization. Simons, an avid reader, has been named the official steward and is also charged with maintaining the box along with its Facebook page.
On October 4, Sha’s Shelf celebrated its official grand opening. So far, Gasper says, Sha’s Shelf has already gotten great reception from the town’s residents, and visitors of all ages.
Gasper and Simons hope Sha’s Shelf continues to grow in popularity and encourages town residents and visitors to use it, respect it, and also help to keep it safe from damage and vandalism.
Visit Sha’s Shelf on Kings Highway at the parklet, where the town clock is located in between Centre and Station Avenues.