Dairy Queen, reading now go hand in hand in Zimmerman

by Debbie Griffin

Contributing Writer

A commitment to literacy compelled local mom Shannon Stubbs, managers from the Dairy Queen at 12475 Fremont Ave. and cereal maker Post Foods to work as a team to install a Little Free Library in Zimmerman May 18.

On it are the basic instructions for use that work by the honor system: “Take a book, return a book.”

That cycle continues so that each time a reader visits the Little Free Library, there will be something different available. Books inside cater to readers of all ages and are free for the taking and returning without fines, cards or paperwork.

Starting a Little Free Library requires a sponsor to pay for the materials (Post); a local person who will maintain the library (Stubbs); and a property owner willing to have the weather-resistant box on their land (Dairy Queen).

Post Foods, the maker of Alpha-Bits, announced May 1 it would sponsor 30 Little Free Libraries in an effort to, much like its cereal does, promote literacy and reading skills in a fun way. The Little Free Library concept started during 2009 in Hudson, Wisconsin, and today includes an estimated 12,000 libraries worldwide. Material costs for a Little Free Library vary from $200 to $1,000, depending on the chosen style and theme.

Shannon Stubbs lives in rural Zimmerman, caring for her two children and preparing for the arrival of a third. She blogs regularly at www.ourpeaceofearth.com about motherhood, family life and other topics including product reviews. She said Post Foods on behalf of its Alpha-Bits breakfast food sent a request to a blogger group of hers.

“I didn’t even know what that was, but it’s a library so I’m in,” said Stubbs.

After that, she saw a Little Free Library at her nephew’s school and became even more excited about the project. The mother said she has a “ridiculous” collection of books for herself and her kids and she likes the idea of bringing more opportunities to read, especially with no public library or bookstore in the city.

She committed to Post Foods that she’d find a location, coordinate the installation and maintain the box. She also wrote a blog post talking about how she and her kids used Alpha-Bits for fun and playful spelling lessons.

Though she considered asking the coffee shop, she reasoned that kids don’t go for coffee too often. Dairy Queen seemed like the perfect central, community location with lots of kids on the patio. Dairy Queen general manager Angie Sherwood and operations supervisor Tim Trebesch said it’s a very busy location serving some 3,500 customers per week. They think the library is likely to have a lot of patrons.

Trebesch, who used to manage the local store and now oversees it along with six others, said it was easy to get the installation OK’d. Parent company Frauenshah commits in its company mission to “be part of the community.”

Trebesch said the Little Free Library fits that mission and complements the whole-store remodel completed three years ago. The Zimmerman Little Free Library partnership could also lead to more of the libraries at other Dairy Queen locations.

Stubbs said she was lucky to receive many donated books to start the library, and now everyone can help keep it stocked by bringing books. Stubbs said Sherwood plans to keep an extra container on hand for any overflow that won’t fit in the box.

Stubbs will be spreading the word about the Little Free Library on her blog and on Facebook and expects many people will discover it or hear about it from friends or neighbors.

For more information about Little Free Libraries, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org.

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