Beth Sykes Shaffer ‘86H donates Little Free Library for Banner Elk's Tate-Evans Park

October 07, 2014

As the closing event of the 2014 Homecoming and Family Weekend, honorary alumna Beth Sykes Shaffer ’86H donated a Little Free Library for Banner Elk’s Tate-Evans Park. Sykes constructed the library herself and painted it green and gold with paw print accents in honor of her family’s strong legacy at Lees-McRae.

On a small green and gold plaque that hangs on the library, Shaffer included a simple, but powerful, dedication message, “…dedicated to all my family who attended Lees-McRae College: Jane Brooks Sykes – 1947, Lantz Sykes – 1947, Phyllis Witcher Sykes – 1954, Martin Sykes – 1972, David Sykes – 1977, Susan Witcher Lanier – 1979, Will Sykes – 1993, and our dear friend Judy Weaver ’57H.”

With a mission focused on promoting “literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide” and building “a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations,” it’s easy to see why Shaffer feels so passionate about Little Free Libraries. What began in Wisconsin in 2009 as a small grassroots initiative has now become a national phenomenon that has manifested in every corner of the United Stated and the world with nearly 15,000 libraries up and running as of January 2014. Each library is, essentially, a box of books where customers are encouraged to take a book and leave a book, but each library is unique, coming in all shapes and sizes.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the library is the small silver plaque installed at the top that states, “Little Free Library.” With the addition of this plaque, Banner Elk’s first Little Free Library location, with hopefully many more to come, is now listed on the official library map.

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Beth Sykes Shaffer ’86H putting the finishing touches on the Little Free Library.
Beth Sykes Shaffer ’86H with the finished Little Free Library.
Beth Sykes Shaffer ’86H with some of the members of her family honored on the Little Free Library's dedication plaque.
The first customer at the Little Free Library opting to leave a book or two.