HomeCherry Hill NewsLittle Free Library dedicated to late reader and contributor

Little Free Library dedicated to late reader and contributor

Shaula C. Wright recognized and remembered for her patronage and involvement

Around 30 people came to the dedication including Mayor Susan Shin Angulo (left), Camden County Historical Society Treasurer and Wright’s friend, Robert Shinn (back), Shaula’s daughter Martha Wright, Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt and Council President David Fleisher (right). (EMILY LIU/The Sun)

Shaula C. Wright was a voracious reader whose love of books and passion for finding rare and unique things often led her to the Little Free Library on Covered Bridge Road in Cherry Hill. 

The Cherry Hill resident enjoyed English whodunits, nonfiction and newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and usually read two to three books a week. When she donated titles, Wright would leave her initials, the date of donation and sometimes brief reviews of the books. 

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“Shaula was the first person to really embrace (the Little Free Library) and helped me curate it,” said Christine Kostyrka, the library’s owner. 

The Little Free Library is a bit larger than a mailbox and was crafted to look like the Scarborough Covered Bridge that stands only a short distance away. People can browse books, take one for free, and leave another – without having to step inside a regular library. 

Wright’s daughter Martha recalled how the miniature library allowed her mom to continue reading during the pandemic, when the public library was closed, and how its short distance from the curb made it more accessible. 

Before Shaula Wright passed away from cancer in September 2021, Kostyrka discussed the possibility of dedicating the library in the 87-year-old’s memory. Several months later, on the sunny morning of Feb. 20, friends, family, community members and local officials gathered at the newly dedicated Shaula C. Wright Little Free Library.

It all started in 2016, when Kostyrka put up her Little Free Library outside her home on Covered Bridge Road. She was inspired by a neighbor who also had a library and liked the concept. 

“You just take (a book), read it, leave it, bring it back,” Kostyrka explained. “You don’t have to put it back to the library when you’re done: You can pass it on to another library or to a friend. It’s really like a community-sharing library.”

The library features primarily adult books, with another little library down the road full of  children’s titles. While it wasn’t very popular when it started, Kostyrka’s library was soon being used by an older woman who caught the attention of Kostyrka’s daughter. 

“For weeks, she would come and leave books, come and leave books, and finally one day I caught her,” Kostyrka recalled of Wright. “I came running out and introduced myself, and that’s how we started our friendship.”

About 30 people attended the Wright library dedication last month, including Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, state Sen. James Beach, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, Mayor Susan Shin Angulo, Council President David Fleisher, and his wife Jennifer.

Robert Shinn, treasurer for the Camden County Historical Society and a Wright friend, recounted the latter’s upbringing and her interest in local history. Wright was raised in Moorestown and eventually realized her childhood dream of living in a historic house, a 1734 structure built by Samuel Coles. 

Shinn recalled how Wright helped the historical society raise funds to restore the Benjamin Cooper Ferry House by going through the society’s inventory and identifying what could be auctioned, an effort that resulted in $150,000 for the restoration project. 

Wright was also known for the Chicken Sits she would host; twice a day, she would go into the yard and sit with her four Buff Orpington chickens to make sure hawks didn’t eat them. Wright was usually joined by friends and neighbors to talk about topics that included news, political events and Camden County history.

Today, the Shaula C. Wright Library remains well-used.

“I cleared the books out (for the dedication ceremony to fill it with books Wright donated) and when I went to put them in, someone had already filled it up,” Kostyrka noted.

To stay up to date with the Wright Little Free Library, visit https://www.facebook.com/shaulacwrightlittlefreelibrary.

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