Roughly 688 people in Norman, Okla., formed a human chain to help their city library move books to a brand-new building.
Earlier this week, Norman Public Library Central had posted about the move on its Facebook page, inviting local residents to help transport books from its current location on one side of Andrews Park to a brand-new facility on the other. “Halloween costumes are welcome!” read the post.
The Library Central opened in 1966, and as Keith Merckx, marketing and communications manager for the Pioneer Library System, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “There are people who have gone to that library their whole lives, so they feel a tie to it.” Having the community pitch in with the move, says Merckx, “provides a way to say goodbye to the building, and connects the old with the new.”
On Sunday, October 27th, about 650 volunteers showed up to joyfully hand off 100 children’s books in a line that stretched 1,700 feet from shelf-to-shelf. “Specifically what we moved were folktales and fairy tales,” Merckx says. “Those are books that we all remember from when we were young, or know if we are young now.”
The library even attached a GoPro camera to a copy of Chicken Little, which captured the volunteers carrying the book to its new home. The chain wound through the park and kickball games, and volunteers even had to cross two streets, but local law enforcement was more than happy to help barricade the roads. And when the book supply dwindled, people hand-carried them over.
Merckx and the rest of the library staff were surprised and delighted by how many volunteers showed up. “We had plenty of people to stretch from shelf-to-shelf,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Volunteer Sally Mae Johnston told the Washington Post, “It’s my hometown library, and we wanted to be part of history,” later saying, “At the very end, we were told to take a book and put it on the new library shelf in its forever home. Doesn’t that just give you the chills?”
The new library is part of an initiative called Norman Forward that includes the construction of two new libraries, including one on the city’s largely rural east side. The central library is a $39 million component of that initiative and will open its doors to the public on Sunday Nov. 3.
The book brigade was a huge success, says Merckx, adding, “Everybody was happy.”
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