Batesville resident gives back to neighborhood after fire

Originally Published June 13, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated June 12, 2013 at 10:32 a.m.
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Emily Van Zandt

Nancy Bernard checks to see what new books and magazines have been placed in the neighborhood library she had built for her yard. The little library, on Eagle Mountain Boulevard, provides a place for neighbors to trade books, magazines and movies.

— Nancy Bernard had the idea for the little library long before the fire happened.

She had seen the idea on an HGTV show and was pushed into action when she saw one in Memphis; a little birdhouse-like library where neighbors could swap books, magazines and movies.

The little library took months to come together and had just been in place two weeks at Bernard’s home, at 903 Eagle Mountain Blvd. in Batesville, when a fire broke out on the side of her home.

A lawnmower that Bernard’s husband, Dick, had been using caught fire, sending flames into two spare bedrooms and across the roof. Though Bernard, her husband and their new puppy were unharmed, the house suffered extensive smoke, fire and water damage. Their neighbors jumped into action to support the couple.

“The people here are excellent neighbors and friends,” Bernard said. “It’s a close-knit neighborhood.”

After the fire, people who walked by their house stopped to offer the couple a place to stay. Neighbors called to check in and volunteer to help clean up the damage or stopped by with food.

It was her neighborhood’s closeness that made Bernard want to create the little library in the first place, and now it is even more important. Bernard is glad to be able to give back to the neighbors who reached out to her and her husband.

The library, which sits near the road on the couple’s property, has already been in use by neighbors.

“We go out there and check on it every day almost,” Bernard said.

The library, which is the size of an oversized birdhouse, was made for the couple by Arkansas State University student Jody Hughes, who modeled it after the Bernards’ house.

“When he brought it by, we couldn’t wait to get it set up,” Bernard said.

While her husband is the bigger reader of the couple, Bernard likes to keep the library stocked with their extra golfing magazines. She said she hopes the library provides a fun place for families to stop on walks around the neighborhood.

“It would be a great idea to have one of these on Main Street, where people like to walk,” Bernard said. “Every neighborhood needs their own.”

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or evanzandt@arkansasonline.com.

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