Sue Berger was taking a walk with her sister-in-law this summer in California when she came across something that would change her community.

Berger saw a Little Free Library for the first time and started researching how to bring one to her home in Longview. Little Free Libraries are weatherproof boxes that hold books for the community to borrow for free.

According to the website of the Little Free Library nonprofit organization, more than 1,000 libraries have been donated to communities across the nation. The mission of the organization is to provide 24/7 access to books in places were they are scarce.

On average, a child in a home without books is three years behind a child in a home with books, according to the organization’s website.

After looking online, Berger said she saw some of the Little Free Libraries were made from old newspaper stands. She then got six retired racks from the News-Journal to place the libraries around the city.

One is in her neighborhood on Joan Street, while a second is in another neighborhood. Berg said she is painting four more stands to place elsewhere around Longview.

Berger said people can find the location of a Little Free Library on a national registry, and anyone can register a library by paying a fee online. The money collected helps the nonprofit organization put the Little Free Libraries in underserved communities and neighborhoods without libraries.

Berger said she loves to read and is hoping the library will help her discover new books, but she also wants it to provide community in a time when people are staying home because of COVID-19.

“It’s just an easy way for more of us to exchange reading material and get to know people in my neighborhood,” she said. “I actually met a lady who lives down the street who stopped by the library. This just makes it an easy, non-threatening way to meet people.”

Kristen is the News-Journal's education reporter. A Longview native, she got a journalism degree and a graduate certificate at Texas Tech University. She covers a variety of issues, including school finance, board meetings and happenings at local schools.