Nick and Sandi Stupiansky had an old, defunct wine cooler.
So they decided to make a library.
Like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, it would seem that if you give two ingenious literary minds a sturdy metal box with shelves, they will inevitably fill it with books.
And so, the CLSC Little Free Library was born. Located behind the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall on Wythe, the library is the gift of the CLSC Class of 2006, of which the Stupianskys are members.
“Since Chautauqua is such a literary community, it made sense to try to share the CLSC books from the past with as many people (as possible),” Nick Stupiansky said.
Although readers can search the internet for many of the historic Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle books, Nick Stupiansky said the library is an attempt to make the books free and accessible for the Chautauqua community. It is also a place for Chautauquans to pass already-read CLSC books along to others.
And unlike a regular library, Sandi Stupiansky said people can take these books home with them, be that on or off the grounds. This is ideal for people who may be visiting Chautauqua and need more time with a book to do it justice, she said.
The library joins the more than 70,000 Little Free Libraries sprinkled across the world.
And in Chautauqua, the library is in good company. According to Nick Stupiansky, a library dedicated to children’s books is in the works, which will be located near Children’s School. The Stupianskys are also working with the Bird, Tree & Garden Club to create a science-themed library.
Sandi Stupiansky said community members have already added to the original 70 books in the couple’s collection and that the books represent decades of CLSC history through 2018. After the books are donated, they are stamped with a little note to ensure future readers know where their book came from.
The motto for the CLSC Class of 2006 is “Readers Create Global Pathways,” and the class alumni are called “pathmakers.”
Staying true to theme, the class flower is a globe thistle. Class member Gail Gamble will paint the library with the floral motif, and specimens of the flower are planted in the ground surrounding the library.
The library will be removed during the off-season for protection from the snow plows, although the refurbished wine cooler is “weather-proof,” Nick Stupiansky said.
Sandi Stupiansky added that her husband also removed the cords and freeze-on, so that the fridge is safe and ready for its second chapter as a community library.
The Stupianskys try to check the library every other day, and they carry a large box of books in their car to “feed” the shelves.
“We have a lot of books,” Sandi Stupiansky said.
And good books, she said, belong in the hands of “people who appreciate good literature.”
“As we clean off our book shelves — which are just bursting at the seams in our house — it’s been good to know that somebody is taking these books and appreciating them,” she said.