Weill

Lawrence Weill stands alongside the Little Free Library he built and contributed to the City of Kuttawa to promote literacy. The Kuttawa author and his late wife, Jennie Wicker Weill, donated the box placed outside city hall.

A longtime educator and novelist, Lawrence "Larry" Weill of Kuttawa is hoping to promote literacy through the little free library installed recently at Kuttawa City Hall.

Across the world, more than 75,000 Little Free Libraries dot the landscape, giving local readers an opportunity to consume new titles at not cost and little hassle. No library cards are needed, no fees, no registration.

"It's absolutely the honor system," said Weill, who has five books of his own published. "Take a book, read it, share it, return it. There's nothing at all complicate about it."

As a writer and former college dean and president, Weill has traveled the country and seen Little Free Libraries in many communities, both large and small.

Just because Kuttawa is small, he said, doesn't meant it cannot think big, so Weill over the summer approached the city's mayor, James "Jimmy" Campbell, about the idea.

"He thought it would be a good idea and would like to see it," Weill said. "Unfortunately, he didn't get to."

Campbell died Dec. 11. Weill's version of the little free library went up Christmas Eve at city hall.

While Kuttawa's little free library is not affiliated with the international organization by the same name, hence the lowercase reference, it serves an identical purpose.

"As a novelist, I'm interested in people's literacy and just seeing people read more," said Weill, 66, who has been writing most of his life, with five works published in the last seven years.

Lyon County becomes a transient community in the summertime, with visitors to the lakes from all over the country and world.

Most do not hold a local library card or are in town at a time when the facility is not open, so the little free library offers them a chance to grab a book and catch a random title they may have never heard of. And there are no worries about late fees.

The library is already stocked with books, and Weill hopes people who simply don't have a place to store their books may consider donating them to the local little free library.

An Owensboro native, Weill first moved to Lyon County in 1994.

He married a local girl, Jennie Wicker, and for a period, the two moved out of state where he served as president of Gordon State College in Barnesville, Georgia.

Both graduates of the University of Kentucky, the couple moved back to Lyon County in 2012. She served as an educator in Lyon County Schools.

Jennie Wicker Weill fell ill this summer around the time her husband began work on building his little free library. She died last week, but the library bears her name as one of the contributors.

"It was fun to do, a nice little project," he said. "I just hope people enjoy it."

Weill said he is not trying to usurp public libraries, only supplement their mission to educate and entertain.

In fact, he is a big supporter of Lyon County Public Library, which carries his novels for patrons to check out.

Some of the settings in his fiction works are right here in western Kentucky, including Lyon County.

His books include "Silas LaMontaie," released last November; "The Path of Rainwater," released last August; "I'm in the Room," released in 2016; and "Incarnate," released in 2013.

Weill said Campbell was a big fan of his books, but because his titles are still on the market, none of his own works will be found in the new little free library. And don't expect to regularly find bestsellers in the tiny repository.

"You're not likely to get one of top 10 latest releases," he said of the title selection in the little free library. "At the same time, you may discover a different sort of niche you enjoy."