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Longtime newspaper reporter successfully works to open the very first library in Oologah

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Posted at 4:24 PM, Jul 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-11 17:24:24-04

OOLOGAH, Okla. -- For the first time since its founding, the town of Oologah will soon have a library of its very own.

Two years ago, Carolyn Estes, a longtime reporter for the Oologah Lake Leader newspaper, created a little free library out of an old newspaper box. She did so after writing about a young boy who did the same thing in his community.

"The importance of reading is the most important thing we teach our children," Estes said. "I feel it's important that every child has an opportunity to have a book in their hand."

Estes said families and their kids began taking home books almost immediately. Donations came in quickly, too.

"I quickly outgrew that newspaper box within about three weeks," she said.

She expanded to a plastic cabinet that could not support the weight of all the books, so she had to move many of them into her own office as well as a storage building.

"People call me almost every day, 'I have books I'd like to donate,'" Estes said. "I'm going, 'Don't bring them to me yet. I can't store any more books.'"

She recently asked the city council if she could start fundraising to buy a building to house the library. She said their response took her aback. 

"They said, 'No, you cannot fundraise," Estes said. "My face just fell, and they said we're going to give you the money."

The city council also agreed to place the library next to city hall in a park, which has a newly opened splash pad and playground.

Kristen Hudson, whose two children go to Oologah-Talala Public Schools, said that they plan to visit when the library opens.

"As a sixth grade teacher at Owasso, we love my kids to read," Hudson said. "We read every single day. We sit down and read a book together, so it will be awesome to have somewhere close to go to (get books)."

Volunteers are needed right now to install the flooring, walls and shelving inside the new library. Estes said she expects to open it in about three to four weeks.

"We want everybody to feel like they can come in at any time that it's unlocked and take books home," she said. "Bring them back if they want to. There's no checkout system. If they want to bring them back, fine. If they want to keep them and pass them around the neighborhood, that's fine, too."

Once the work inside is complete, Estes said the local police department agreed to have an officer open and close the library every day.

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