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SIOUX CITY | Take a book, return a book, share the gift of reading.

That’s the inspiration behind the Sioux City Mayor’s Youth Commission effort to bring Little Free Libraries to the community.

The libraries, built from refurbished Sioux City Journal newspaper racks, contain donated books that anyone can borrow, and are encouraged to share a book of their own.

The Mayor's Youth Commission is scheduled to formally announce the project at a news conference Friday.

Hannah Rens, mayor of the Youth Commission when the project began last March, said the idea presented a new resource to both adults and children in the community that encouraged reading and provided free books.  

“We wanted something kind of new and fun that kids could get involved with as well as adults,” said Rens, now a senior at East High. “This gets the community more involved with reading and promotes literacy.”

Commission members agreed on the library project out of a list of about 20 possible activities or programs, Rens said. 

The brightly colored, literary themed libraries will be placed at 10 locations throughout Sioux City. An "Alice in Wonderland"-themed box will greet customers at Jitters, while a box designed in the spirit of "Little House on the Prairie" will be placed at the Sioux City Community School District’s Educational Service Center.

Other locations include the Sioux City Journal, Book People, Bishop Heelan Catholic High School, the Sioux City Police Department, Mercy Medical Center, the new Children’s Museum and the Sioux City Art Center.

Linda Phillips, director of Siouxland CARES, which teamed with the Mayor’s Youth Commission on the project, said the effort brought others into the mix as well.

The Sioux City Journal donated the news racks, while the Sioux City Art Center provided a space to paint them.

Debra Marqusee, education coordinator for the Sioux City Art Center, said the project goes hand in hand with the Art Center's effort to encourage creativity in the youth. 

"Books give us a place to go; something that people of all ages can relate to and are absolutely magical for children," she said, in a release. 

The city of Sioux City, Sioux City Young Ambassadors and the Sioux City Police Department also played roles in creating the Little Free Libraries.

Rens said the 30 or more Mayor’s Youth Commission students, those who donated time and resources and the businesses and organizations that offered to host racks have helped the program get off to quick start.

“Seeing the excitement from business owners and places wanting to place these outside their businesses and take pride in them has been a rewarding feeling,” Rens said. “I feel like this is going to make an impact in the community.”

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