Many Americans can picture this image: retiring after years of hard work and to live out the rest of life peacefully without the stress of work and obligations, spending each morning sitting in a rocking chair on the porch reading the newspaper and enjoying quiet days. Many people hope to devote most of their life to work, and transition comfortably to retirement in this way.

Morris resident Rose Buckens on the other hand, never stops working hard, even after her retirement from the retail industry. On her path towards retirement, Buckens knew she wanted to continue being efficient and active, but she had no clue what she wanted to spend her time doing — until she discovered an international non-profit named Little Free Libraries when she found a small box of books while walking at Silver Sands Beach in Milford. Rose was inspired by the little box, appreciating the way it encouraged communities to “share the love of learning” and “give back.” Rose had found the exact thing she was looking for — a great cause to devote herself to during her retirement.

You may have spotted only a few, but hundreds of Little Free Libraries have popped up in Connecticut since the nonprofit’s creation in 2009. These small boxes of books circulate literature to and from communities all around the world.

In 2009, Wisconsin native Todd Bol came up with the idea to pay tribute to his late mother, a school teacher. He created a stand on his front lawn using a small wooden box that he filled with books. Bol encouraged people to take books and donate any old books they did not want anymore. This tribute would eventually allow people all across the world to receive and donate books in their communities for free. The organization caught traction over time, and in 2014, Buckens decided to join in the great work that Bol’s organization had already done.

Buckens has spent much of the past six years opening up hundreds of Little Free Libraries around the area. From Newtown to Norfolk, Buckens has allowed people to take or donate books to libraries in places such as bakeries, schools, grocery stores and more.

In addition to her local work, Buckens has expanded her efforts further than ever by shipping books to a school in Ndola, Zambia. The books traveled across the Atlantic this year, when Buckens found a contact at the Dominican Convent School in Ndola, and has helped supply that community with new books. She also coordinated plans to open 25 new libraries in various elementary schools in Waterbury, but precautions involving the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a major roadblock in the progress that Buckens had been making.

For everyone’s safety, American citizens are avoiding face-to-face contact as much as possible during the pandemic, and many people are wary of risks involving frequent interaction with other people. As a result, it has been very difficult to get used books from person to person in the face of fear of COVID-19. This was a major hindrance in plans to expand and continue Little Free Libraries in the area until a major political figure from Connecticut contacted Buckens about helping to work around the problem.

Four-time presidential candidate and nationally respected activist, Ralph Nader has decided to work with Buckens to supply brand-new books to communities across the state, thus avoiding the perceived risk of contamination posed by used books. In October, Nader supplied Buckens with 45 boxes of brand-new books to circulate to Little Free Libraries in the area.

Buckens has always been an achiever, and despite the enormous limitations that the COVID-19 pandemic has put on the organization, she is determined to continue developing Little Free Libraries around the state. While she has been able to coordinate an incredible number of libraries in the past six years, she welcomes help with open arms. If you are inspired by Little Free Libraries, contact Buckens at rosebuckensdesigns@yahoo.com or by visit www.stonehillhomeandgarden.com.

Connecticut Media Group