Little Free Library

Annabelle Finney of Glade Spring looks inside the town's new Little Free Library in front of the Town Square Center for the Arts. During an informal ceremony at 2 p.m. on June 13, members of the Glade Spring Book Lovers Club will dedicate the book exchange in memory of their beloved friend Henrietta Umberger, who died last year.

GLADE SPRING, Va. — A local woman is being remembered with a book exchange model that will inspire people of all ages to read.

During an informal ceremony at 2 p.m. on June 13, members of the Glade Spring Book Lovers Club will dedicate a hand-built and hand-painted Little Free Library in memory of their beloved friend, Henrietta Umberger.

Members of the community are invited to attend the ceremony in front of the Town Square Center for the Arts in the Glade Spring town square, a facility Umberger worked tirelessly to help create.

The Glade Spring resident died at the age of 94 last October from injuries sustained from an automobile accident.

Little Free Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that aims to inspire a love of reading, build community and spark creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.

“Take a book, share a book” is the motto for the organization that has become a worldwide phenomenon, with more than 80,000 public exchanges registered.

People of all ages in the Glade Spring community are encouraged to use the whimsically decorated book exchange box mounted on a post outside the Town Square Center for the Arts.

“We knew we wanted to do something special in memory of her, so when the idea for a library came up, we thought it was a fitting way to memorialize her,” said Jeane Hutton, president of the book club.

“She was a force and so involved in the Glade Spring community and her church, Glade Spring Presbyterian Church.

“If she was interested in a project, she gave it her all.”

Umberger, a native of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, had made Glade Spring her home for many years. She volunteered for a number of community organizations, including the Glade Spring Library, Project Glade and the Town Square Center for the Arts, all in Glade Spring. Her other volunteer work focused on helping the League of Women Voters, Fields-Penn House, Barter Theatre and William King Museum of Art. She even arranged flowers for The Jade Tree, a florist in Abingdon.

Bob Stanberry of Glade Spring constructed the wooden library box, and artist Valerie O’Neal, a volunteer at the Town Square Center for the Arts, painted it with a fairy design that celebrates the return of the Passawats, mythical gnomes and fairies that, according to town folklore, used to live in the area.

The colorful, weatherproof bookcase holds two shelves and is one of the first of its kind in Glade Spring, with similar versions in Meadowview and Abingdon.

Hutton said the concept is appropriate for their friend, who enjoyed learning new things and sharing her ideas.

“Henrietta was a very caring person, and she would be happy to know that this library box will spread joy to adults as well as children.”

The Glade Spring Book Lovers Club, one of the oldest clubs in the region, was formed in 1935. In addition to Hutton, members of the club are Ruth Ann Arington, Patty Bales, Joella Barbour, Kathryn Beattie, Mona Buchanan, Helen Eller, Nancy Inazu, Susan Johnston, Marilou Preston, Anita Robinson and Peggy Robinson.

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Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at

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