- Associated Press - Thursday, December 25, 2014

BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. (AP) - Western South Dakota resident Vern Bills spent part of his summer building a new community library in downtown Belle Fourche.

He stocked the library with books he received from family members and it’s been up and running since June. But Bills won’t take offense if residents haven’t seen or heard of it: It’s the size of a doghouse.

Bills’s “Little Free Library” is part of a worldwide movement to promote reading through the free exchange of books. It looks like a miniature house, with a glass door, a deck and an American flag on the side, the Black Hills Pioneer (http://bit.ly/1x6bi7j ) reported. Bills even decorates it for holidays, so a miniature snowman currently sits next to its door.

“I looked into it and thought it would be a fun thing,” Bills said. “I have a lot of extra books from people in my family, specifically my mother, so I built it as a little memorial to my mother.”

Some Little Free Libraries are as large as an old telephone booth. The libraries are close to the road and passers-by are encouraged to borrow, take or add books.

Bills said he has between 1,200 and 1,500 books to rotate, both hardcovers and paperbacks, as well as holiday-specific children’s books.

When community members add books to the library, Bills puts a sticker on the back of each book that says, “always a gift, never for sale,” and attaches a pamphlet detailing how the library works.

“I’ve been amazed that people use it as much as they do, and that it hasn’t been tampered with,” Bills said. “That tells me that there is a respect for books.”

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Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, http://www.bhpioneer.com

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