CSU, Chico News

Professor Leads Community Book Exchange Project

Date: 09-04-2014

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs

Residents of the Barber neighborhood in Chico will soon have access to a free community book exchange, thanks in part to the efforts of California State University, Chico theatre professor Dan Schindler.

Schindler, with support from the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and the Department of Music and Theatre, spent part of his summer building a box for the Little Free Library. The program is an international community movement that offers free books in small containers to members of a local community.

When completed, the 30-by-30-inch teal green structure will be installed in Rotary Park at the corner of 16th and Broadway Streets. Area residents will be able to stop by, borrow a book and donate one in its place, according to program etiquette.

Schindler lives in the Barber neighborhood in southwest Chico and is active in the Barber Neighborhood Association. He brought the idea to Humanities and Fine Arts dean Robert Knight after hearing his neighbors express an interest in getting a box.

“I thought it would be a good outreach project for the music and theatre,” Schindler said. “We don’t do productions in the summer, so we have some space and time. I thought it’d be a really nice way to give back to the community.”

Knight agreed to fund materials and staff time, and theatre shop foreman Pete Austin assisted Schindler with the construction. Faculty members generously donated books, including past Book in Common reads, and the Butte County Library also helped seed the collection.

Now, Chico Area Recreation District (CARD) is applying a graffiti-resistant coating and roof shingles to the box. CARD staff will install the finished product at the city-owned Rotary Park in the next several weeks.

In Chico, at least six or seven other Little Free Libraries are already placed around town. According to littlefreelibrary.org, more than 15,000 libraries around the world had been built by January 2014, with thousands more in production at that time.

Schindler, who teaches theatre design and production, said the project was rewarding in that it brought together the University, city, county and community for the common good.

“It really is a cross-pollination of different organizations working together,” he said. “This is exactly the type of community project that I like.”

Learn more about the Department of Music and Theatre at www.csuchico.edu/muta. More information about the Little Free Library is available at http://littlefreelibrary.org.