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story.lead_photo.caption Cory Rickabaugh and his wife Tessi created this Little Free Library in front of their home near Bluff Street and St. Louis Avenue in Fulton. Photo by Adam Brake / Fulton Sun.

According to the Little Free Library website, there are two library locations in Callaway County. One is in Millersburg, and the other in Fulton.

The operator of the Fulton location, Tessi Muskrat Rickabaugh, said she encountered a Little Free Library for the first time on a trip to the Pacific Northwest.

"I ran across one on a backstreet in Seattle and thought 'What a neat idea!'" she said. "Reading has always been important to me and my family, and I believe in community and sharing."

Although the library is in Rickabaugh's front yard, it is intended to be used by the community.

"It's about borrowing and lending books to each other," she said. "Eventually, what happens to these libraries around the country is the community takes them on."

The Little Free Library movement began in 2009, according to The idea was to have a small communal location where people can take and leave books as they please.

Rickabaugh said the revolving book selection will provide borrowers access to many types of literature. There is no registration required and no payments needed.

"Anybody at any time can walk up and look through the books," she said. "They can take one home, read it and bring it back. The idea is if someone wants to keep a book, they bring another one from home to replace it."

Not much is needed to start one — just some books and a wooden container, Rickabaugh said.

"I was a little spoiled because a friend of mine's father built one for me," she said. "If you have the skills, it wouldn't be too hard to build. The web page does sell kits you can assemble on your own."

A self-proclaimed reading advocate, Rickabaugh said reading is an essential part of the human experience.

"There's been a number of studies recently that suggest young people who read more have an increase in empathy," she said. "When you read a book, you live someone's experience through their eyes. Even if the book is 'Grover Has a Bad Day,' it's still a way to connect with someone outside yourself."

Rickabaugh said she hopes people will consider making the effort and installing libraries in their yards.

"I think it would be awesome if we had some in areas of the town farther from the library," she said. "We've seen a lot of communities putting them up in public parks. I would love to see them put up in places where they're really well used.

In addition to the social need for reading, Tessi's husband, Cory Rickabaugh, said their Little Free Library also served a practical purpose for the couple.

"The whole idea came out of our need to get rid of some books," he said. "I think with all of the media and electronic entertainment kids and adults are subjected to today, being able to take a walk to a place where you can pick and choose a book to read is vital."

Cory Rickabaugh said his wife has always been good at following through on ideas.

"She's always been the one to take ideas and put them into action," he said. "She's amazing, and it's an honor to support her in doing what she wants to do."

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