‘Little library’ no small task

06 23 Little Weirs Library DS

Building and establishing the "Weirs Beach Library," a little library that contains about 30 books, was easier said than done for Beca Bayken, who spearheaded the effort. She's pleased that it's now up and making books available for residents and visitors of The Weirs. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Bookworm installs self-service ‘library in a box’ at The Weirs


LACONIA — A self-described "book worm," 26-year-old Laconia native Beca Bayken has always enjoyed the ability to find a new volume to dive into. She first lived in the city's center, later moved to the Lakeport area, and for the past few years has lived in The Weirs.

"When I lived in Laconia and Lakeport, Laconia has that castle-like library, and Lakeport has that reading room," said Bayken. But when she moved to The Weirs, she found that there wasn't a library or even a book store.

This winter, Bayken decided to do something to make books available for residents and visitors of The Weirs. Her idea was to construct a "little library," a small box, something a little larger than a birdhouse or mailbox, that would be mounted in a public place and which would be filled with books for the taking. Beyond their size, little libraries are distinct from their conventional cousins because users don't need a library card, nor do they check out books – they just take them, and return them when they're done with them. Bayken suggested that users could bring a book from their own collection to leave at the library in place of the one that they've removed.

Though it's little, it was no small task to bring The Weirs Beach Library, which is mounted near the entrance to the Weirs Community Center, to her community. Bayken, whose first chapter book was "Harry Potter," said she brought her idea to Amy Lovisek at Laconia Parks and Recreation in late winter, and was given the green light.

"They all loved the idea," said Bayken. Getting the go-ahead was the easy part, it turned out. Then she had to figure out where she could locate the library, and, because she had to install a post, she had to arrange for Dig Safe to clear the location. A neighbor volunteered material used for the post. And then came the construction of the library itself.

"I needed a lot of help," she said. Fortunately, she was able to enlist her father, who fashioned the library out of a kitchen cabinet Bayken scored on Craigslist. After weatherizing the cabinet, he built a facade using cedar shakes left over from a bobhouse he built. 

Then came the need to stock the shelves. The library can fit 30 books, and Bayken, who is currently reading Stephen King's "11/22/63," was able to fill it with books from her own collection as well as those from her co-workers at Titeflex Aerospace. The library officially opened a couple of weeks ago, and although there are no check-out records to keep track of activity, she knows people are using it because she sees the titles change as people drop off a book when they take one out.

"I'm glad it's done, I'm happy to see it up. It was a lot more involved for a little project than I thought," she said.

She has set up a facebook page, www.facebook.com/weirsbeachlibrary, for users to talk about books that they have read.

For Bayken, immersing herself in a book is a chance to relax and to escape into another reality. The little library is a chance to share that love with her Weirs neighbors, people coming to spend a few hours at the beach, or commuters heading home after work.

"Go crazy, keep reading," urged Bayken.


  • Written by Adam Drapcho
  • Category: Local News
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Students, police officer replace signs at Pleasant Street School trails


LACONIA — Students at Pleasant Street School were in for an ugly surprise when they returned from summer break last year, as they found that unknown vandals had destroyed the signs and markers throughout the nature trails behind the school. Classes at the elementary school often utilized the seven different trails and outdoor classroom, especially when exploring natural science topics. Distraught but determined, a group of 12 students got together to form the PSS Nature Club, which set out to replace the signs. 

The club achieved its goal in time for the end of the school year, thanks to funds raised through cider sales at the Fall Festival and help from a friend. Laconia Police Officer Jonathan Howe, who had taken to visiting students at the school on a regular basis, heard about the project and thought about a pile of lumber he had at his home.

"Because I know woodworking, I decided to make (the signs)," said Howe. The students' fundraising efforts went toward paint for the lettering, and Howe provided his skills and his hand-router. The Laconia Police Relief Association also chipped in for supplies. Howe engraved the lettering into the wood pieces, then returned them to the students, who filled in the letters with paint. The painted signs then went back to Howe's workshop, where he gave them a final sanding, then brought them back to the school again for installation by the students.

Howe's signs, made from 2-inch-thick hemlock, should prove more robust than the thin pine boards they replace, and will likely be guiding students at Pleasant Street School for many years to come.

Students in the PSS Nature Club, for the 2016-2017 school year, include: Nolan Appleton, Kiera Boudreau, Logan Campbell, D'Mornay Cooper, Anita Dreshaj, Audrey Dunleavy, McKenzie Kelley, Ayden Mara, Pheobe Nyieth, Jack Randall, Eric Simoneau and Dwayne Wyatt. The club is advised by Liz Rosenfeld, who said Howe's gesture will have an effect that will endure long after the club's members move on from Pleasant Street School.

"The PSS Nature Club began as a small group of fifth graders who were disappointed that someone would vandalize the nature trail markers behind our school. Officer Howe's interest in their project and then his donation of time and materials in a way that allowed the students to take part in the painting of the trail signs was a huge lesson for them about how our community cares about kids. Officer Howe's signs are a legacy for the trail and his actions taught the students that the Laconia Police Department is on their side," said Rosenfeld.

06 23 Pleasant Street School signs

Liz Rosenfeld and Laconia Police Officer Jonathan Howe display the new signs for the Pleasant Street School that Howe made and students painted, which replace signs that were destroyed last year by vandals. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Adam Drapcho
  • Category: Local News
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Memorial Garden fundraiser to help Gilford police get new K9



GILFORD — Gilford Police Relief Association has launched a fundraiser to assist in the acquisition of a new police dog, offering a chance to memorialize friends, loved ones, and families by buying engraved bricks for the department’s Memorial Garden.

Gilford’s last police dog, Ike, died of cancer at age 6 last February. The police department’s first canine, Agbar, who retired in 2012, died at the age of 13 in March.

Lt. Kristian Kelley said it costs around $15,000 to purchase and train a dog and his handler for a K9 patrol. The police department will be looking into other funding sources as well, hoping to raise all the money locally. K9 grants are available, but Kelley said they usually come with restrictions, and the department would prefer to choose its own dog and decide how it is used.

The engraved pavers serve a dual purpose, Kelley said, allowing members of the community to assist in funding the K9 program while memorializing someone close to them.

The Memorial Park has about 100 bricks in place at the flagpole, and each can accommodate three lines of type with 18 characters per line. The bricks can be engraved in place.

The Memorial Garden has two benches, the first dedicated to the late Kainen Flynn, a 25-year-old Gilford police officer who drowned while fishing, and the second to Agbar. A new granite post will hold a plaque for future commemorations, Kelley said.

To purchase an engraved brick, go to the Gilford Police Department Dispatch Center. All inscriptions are subject to approval by Gilford Police Relief Association.

06 22 Memorial Garden

Gilford Police Officer Daniel O’Neill holds one of the bricks used for the walkway in the Memorial Garden outside the police department. Gilford Police Relief Association is offering the chance to have the bricks engraved in exchange for a contribution toward acquisition and training of a new dog for a K9 patrol. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)


  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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