Little library takes root in Still Park

Pinelands Garden Club looking to grow interest in child-centered book venture.

The bright colors of the Pinelands Garden Club’s only lending library will soon blend in with the Butterfly Garden at Still Park. The club houses books in the library on gardening, insects and children’s books to instill a love of reading in Medford’s youngest residents (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).

Nestled in Still Park is a bright, colorful little library attracting families to the books within, ultimately instilling a love of books.

The Lending Library, created by the Pinelands Garden Club, is home to books about gardening, insects, animals and any other children’s books club members come across. Manager of the library Anne Roettger said since the library’s October birth, it has doubled in its number of books.

The butterfly garden right now is a graveyard, but when it’s all in bloom, it’s a pretty garden and this fits in with it,” Roettger remarked. “It’s been a success.

Still Park was the landing spot for the library as other points of interest in town were either occupied by different leisure activities, such as the Pinelands Branch Library, or did not have enough foot traffic from families. The park is also surrounded on three sides with homes, making it easier for children to visit.

Keeping in tune with the garden club’s mission, Roettger added the library has mixed media, as it also houses outdoor living magazines, DIY manuals, etc.

President of the club, Amelia Furno, worked with her husband to construct the library after being inspired by other libraries around the state and wanted to “add to the charm” of Medford and the surrounding butterfly garden.

Summertime is primetime for the garden as Roettger noted flowers are all in bloom and butterflies populate the land.

Channeling the love of reading Roettger inspires in her seven grandchildren, she hopes children will marvel at the novels within, pick them up and swipe through the pages.

No returns expected.

I’m big on putting books in kids’ hands,” she admitted. “If they have these books, they don’t have to go and buy books, or go to a library and bring it back. They can just take one and keep it.

“I think that’s good for literacy, which is why I like the little children’s books.

The gardening club does not have educational programs in the garden or about the lending library, but Roettger said it might be in their minds as temperatures rise. Educational programs in Medford for children are coordinated through Medford Township Public Schools.

Instead, the club focuses on other educational initiatives throughout the township such as teaching kids about herbs from the colonial times and planting tree seedlings on Arbor Day.

The state gives Medford around 300 to 400 seedlings,” Roettger explained. “They (the township) give one to every fourth grader, and we deliver them to all of the schools. In one of the schools, we do a presentation talking about the benefits of planting trees.

Despite not having plans to host educational programs at the park, she believes allowing for kids to be able to touch, feel or read pages out of a book aids in a child’s transpiring love of reading.

I like kids to touch them, see them and get used to them,” Roettger continued. “Not that ‘this is something you do when you go to school, you’re gonna have to learn this.’

“They should be enjoyable, fun and kids should have their favorites.”

Anyone is welcome to exchange, take or drop off books about gardening, outdoor living, nature or children’s novels in the lending library located at Still Park, behind the municipal building and senior community center.

To learn more about the gardening club, visit PinelandsGardenClub.org.