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Bethany Lutheran Church has a new and diverse Little Free Library thanks to the Lake Highlands Area Moms Against Racism.

The new Little Free Library at 10101 Walnut Hill Lane was officially dedicated on Valentine’s Day weekend. The library offers various books that highlight people from all races, religions, sexual orientations and classes, says Ann Ryan, a Lake Highlands mom who headed the effort.

“By providing books rooted in diversity, LHAMAR’s hope is to broaden horizons and inspire more peacemakers, advocates and allies,” Ryan said.

Little Free Libraries are neighborhood book exchanges where you take or leave a book. They have found success across the world in creating communities of readers.

Ryan had always wanted to building a Little Free Library, and she jumped at the opportunity when group leader Lowry Manders presented the idea. The LHAMAR Little Free Library came to life with the help of Ryan’s father’s handiwork skills and table saw.

In the process of curating books, Ryan realized the difficulty of finding books with diverse characters and authors.

“I gained more of an understanding of what the challenges are for children and adults that are people of color to see themselves reflected in books,” she said. “And then for all of the white kids, like me, to be able to read something that shows that perspective.”

The Lake Highlands community came together to support the creation of the library. Neighbors donated over 300 books, Sherwin-Williams donated paint for the library and LH-based Scott Exteriors donated supplies for the library’s roofing, Ryan said.

LHAMAR will use fundraising dollars to purchase books that represent people of color through a partnership with Pan-African Connection Bookstore in Dallas.

With the close proximity to Lake Highlands Junior High, Ryan hopes students walking by or waiting to be picked up will come across the Little Free Library.

“We’re hoping that is becomes a nice little area for people to hang out and read a book,” Ryan said.

Since the Little Free Library opened last weekend, LHAMAR leader Manders said a handful of neighbors have given negative feedback, stolen signage from the library and erased the word “DIVERSITY” from a recently added chalk board.

In a post to the LHAMAR Facebook group, Manders urged the community support the library by borrowing a book, writing a note of support in the guest book or writing a note directly to Bethany Lutheran Church showing appreciation for the partnership.

“Of course, no one has to use it that doesn’t want to,” Manders said in the post. “But we choose to believe there are lots more people out there who appreciate this gift than are angry about it.”