Legendary Hoosier author James Alexander Thom doesn’t have a lot of direct ties to Carmel, but he knows the city got at least one thing right.
Thom, who lives near Bloomington, was excited to help the city unveil a little free library and reading benches Aug. 13 along the Monon Trail south of the Center Green.
“I like the idea,” said Thom, who is working on an American Indian novel and some children’s books. “Most of my life I’ve sat down to read wherever I was.”
Thom’s novel, “Follow the River,” is prominently featured in the design of one of the two benches. The national bestseller is about a 23-year old mother kidnapped by Shawnee Indians in 1755.
The benches also feature work by other Indiana authors, including Kurt Vonnegut, John Green, Mari Evans, Gene Stratton Porter and James Whitcomb Riley.
The little free library is inside a replica of a London phone booth. Project leaders initially planned to purchase a phone booth from overseas but the cost of shipping and unknown condition of the booth led them to design their own.
“We wanted to make sure it was done correctly,” said Kelli Prader, City of Carmel community relations specialist who spearheaded the project. “By contracting it ourselves we know what we’re getting and we can make some changes.”
The 8-foot tall red phone booth will house book options for children and adults. Users may take a book and return it or another one at their convenience.
Employees at Software Engineering Professionals, which is adjacent to the little free library, will ensure that it is stocked and in good condition. They helped spark the idea for the library and have worked with city officials and the Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation to make it a reality.
“I’m really glad that this is going to be part of the community and that everybody has been such a team player,” Prader said.