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Merrill Church Creates Little Free Diverse Library to Encourage Racial Understanding

Brenda Mueller

You may have seen Little Free Libraries across the Northwoods, simple boxes for giving and taking books for community sharing.

But current discussions about race relations in the United States inspired one local church to create a Little Free Diverse Library.

Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Merrill sponsored the project, which includes free-to-borrow books featuring minority characters and minority authors.

It’s situated in a city that, like much of the Northwoods, has limited racial diversity.

“We can’t hide anymore just because we live in this area where everybody looks like me,” said Brenda Mueller, a church member who coordinated the project.

Mueller thinks the demographics here make it even more important to expose readers to people of color in books.

“Just because we live in an area where we don’t see people of color very often doesn’t excuse us not learning about or accepting people of color,” she said.

The Little Free Diverse Library is by the church and Prairie River Middle School.

The church congregation chipped in to make it possible, including work by a carpenter who fashioned the small library to reflect the church.

“He made a little library that looks a lot like our church: stained glass windows, sloping roof, the whole bit,” Mueller said.

Mueller says the adult books were borrowed quickly.

She also wants parents and grandparents to take books to read to children.

“I’m hoping that by reading a book about Black children and their struggles and successes and things that they have will make children more comfortable with, yeah, they’re just like me, and not learn the prejudices that we all seem to grow up with,” Mueller said.

As far as Mueller knows, the Little Free Diverse Library in Merrill is the only one in the area so far.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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