Calling all book lovers to Ashland, Missouri! Recently, free libraries have been popping up across the country. The process is simple. A small, unlocked box full of books is left in a public area. From there, anyone and everyone is able to take out, borrow or loan a book of their choice. While commonly used to exchange children’s books, these boxes and the books they hold can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

With the help of Southern Boone teen, Addison Wassman, the idea of a free library has become a reality in Ashland. Wassman, 18, is an active reader and wanted to share her hobby with the public. 

“I love to read. My entire room is full of books. I first got the idea after seeing the boxes in Hartsburg and Columbia. I was talking to my grandma about how I wished there was one in Ashland, and she told me to make one,” said Wassman. 

After this conversation, Addison did just that. Over this past summer, she spent a lot of time painting and making the box by hand, later filling it with her own books. During the summer, Wassman went before the city council and pitched her idea to the board. At the meeting, a representative from Ashland’s Connections Bank agreed to place the exchange post outside of the business.

What began as a fun hometown project has turned into something that encourages reading at all ages. This zero-cost initiative allows people of all financial backgrounds to partake in the fun. Anyone is able to donate a book, and anyone is able to receive. 

“It’s completely free for any and all book lovers. People are able to read with no strings attached,” said Addison’s mom, Melissa Wassman. 

By Sofi Zeman