Kennewick mini library looks like time machine from 'Doctor Who'

Couple says like TARDIS, books transport people to different times and places

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldApril 13, 2014 

Little Library Kennewick

Jaqee Luey, left, and Andre Bungat, both juniors at Kamiakin High School, check out some of the reading selection from a "Doctor Who" inspired Little Free Library built by her parents, Ja-Kael and Debi Luey of Kennewick.

SCOTT BUTNER — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Fans of the popular Doctor Who series may give a double-take driving by the Luey family's house.

A bright blue replica of the show's time machine -- the TARDIS -- sits in their front yard at 3019 Lesa Marie Court, Kennewick.

"Really, my neighbors haven't a clue what it is. But fans of Doctor Who will get a kick out of it," Debi Luey said.

You'll find books inside instead of the time-traveling humanoid alien.

It's a free, mini library.

Anyone is welcome to borrow a book, leave another or return it after reading it.

It's part of a worldwide movement to scatter mini libraries freely throughout communities much as industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie did in the early 20th century. Only his libraries were actual buildings, including Pasco's first library, freely donated to the towns and cities of America to promote literacy.

The new movement is called Little Free Library and the Lueys' TARDIS -- Time And Relative Dimension In Space -- is registered as No. 12815.

Luey said she learned of the project from a Herald story two years ago.

Tammi Jo and Steve Bisch of Pasco built one that looks like a large birdhouse and put it in front of her mother's home.

Since then, two others have popped up in Richland. The Lueys' library is the first for Kennewick.

Debi and her husband, Ja-Kael, are big fans of the long-running British science fiction program, so when she asked him to build a Little Free Library kiosk, choosing a design was easy.

"We've been fans of the show since the 1980s and have even hooked our kids on it a bit," she said.

Ja-Kael thought he would have the project completed in a couple of weeks. Instead, it took him a good part of January and February.

"I didn't have plans, just a sketch. We had a general idea of what we wanted, but as the thing came together, I had to adjust this and that as I built it. I improvised a lot," he said.

When he was done, the kiosk sat in their living room for several weeks.

"We were waiting for warmer weather to put it out. Finally she said, 'OK, it's going outside,' " he said. That was two weeks ago.

The kiosk is made of wood with Plexiglas windows and sits on four post anchors like you would use for a deck.

"It's heavy enough the wind shouldn't tip it over," Ja-Kael said.

Their Little Free Library is dedicated to Debi's father, Steve Birskovich, who died April 9, 2013.

"He was a great reader, even more so when he discovered he had Alzheimer's disease. His theory on keeping his brain sharp was to read and learn as much as he could. Of course, he chose books on topics like black holes, that none of us really wanted to talk about," she said.

The Lueys have stocked their Little Free Library with a variety of subjects.

"We have children's (books) as well as adult reading, though you won't find 50 Shades of Grey. But you will find a copy of the New Testament," she said.

Building a replica of the TARDIS made perfect sense for the couple.

Books transport readers to different worlds, different realities just as the Doctor uses the blue British police call box to move between times and dimensions.

The Lueys also incorporated an online-based game called Letterboxing.

It's somewhat like geocaching, only searchers use clues posted to the website instead of a GPS, to find a hidden stamp.

"This is a lot more low-tech," she said.

Once you find the stamp, you use it to stamp your Letterboxing logbook. Then you stamp the logbook that was hidden with it, she explained.

The Lueys' stamp has the letters "DW."

"They stand for Doctor Who," she said.

The Letterboxing website is www.letterboxing.org.

For more information on the Little Library project and their locations, go to www.littlefreelibrary.org.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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