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Take a book, leave a book at Little Free Library in Roseville

New neighborhood association?s first order of business: Build a library
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Roseville resident Mike Hazen periodically pops his head into his local library to see the latest selection, and recently he saw a Harlequin romance novel.

"One of those with Fabio on the front," Hazen said, smiling.

The library in question has also had Shakespeare, an Encyclopedia Britannica, young adult novels and even some Teen Vogue magazines. This library is open to the public and books are free.

But unlike traditional public libraries, visitors don't need a library card. Instead, they pick up books as they please with the expectation that they'll also drop off books to keep the shelf - there's only one - stocked.

The Los Cerritos Neighborhood Association recently installed what's called a Little Free Library. It's registered as the 1,699th of these libraries throughout the world.

Resident Danielle Michel had the idea after listening to a National Public Radio program about this library movement started in 2010. She brought it up to her neighborhood association's board, and they agreed.

"(We did this) to promote a sense of community and to promote a love of reading," Michel said. "I just thought that was a great idea, waiting for a place to go."

Michel, a teacher at Oakmont High School, loves to read and felt a Little Free Library would encourage the same in others, especially the children who pass by the library on Elefa Street on their way to and from Woodbridge Elementary School.

For the neighborhood of about 900 to 1,000 households located off Washington Boulevard and near the Placer County Fairgrounds, the library has created buzz, Hazen said.

Hazen built the library. The neighborhood association plans to install several more, and he's tasked with building at least two of those.

"It gives us a focal point to build a sense of community," he said.

Hazen is the president of the Los Cerritos Neighborhood Association, which had been dormant until May, after the Roseville Coalition of Neighborhood Associations made a push to reactivate these groups throughout the city.

RCONA President Werner Kuehn said four neighborhood associations are now forming - Highland Reserve, Diamond Oaks, Sierra Gardens and Los Cerritos - with a fifth one close to re-activation.

The city has 12 active associations out of 39 neighborhoods. Seven of those neighborhoods are industrial or retail and 16 are inactive. RCONA's goal is to ultimately reactivate all 32 residential neighborhood associations.

"Although neighborhood associations are not actually structured as distinct governmental units, they are extremely important and valuable because they foster neighborhood cohesiveness, community partnerships and quality of life," Kuehn said.

They provide a clearinghouse of community information, common voice for neighbors, resource for responding to local issues and they coordinate crime-prevention and public safety programs, he said.

The Los Cerritos group has about a dozen active members, but is looking for more participants. They have plans to work on a community garden and participate in the worldwide National Night Out event in August.

Their Little Free Library is the first step in unifying the neighborhood and bringing people together.

"It's to meet our neighbors and talk and ultimately look out for each other," Hazen said.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.

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Los Cerritos Neighborhood Association meetings are held at 6 p.m. the first Thursday of each month. The next meeting has been pushed back to Thursday, July 12, in the Garden Room of the Placer County Fairgrounds, 800 All America City Blvd. in Roseville. For more information, call President Mike Hazen at (916) 919-3559 or email safetydad@comcast.net.

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Los Cerritos Neighborhood Association

What: Little Free Library kick-off celebration

When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 21

Where: Elefa Street and Los Vegas Avenue

Cost: Free