The Book Stops Here
Logan Burtch-Buus, Tucson Local Media

From “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” to a selection of the “Anne of Green Gables” series, or even one of James Patterson’s many novels—and everything in between—one Oro Valley neighborhood has been sharing its communal love of the written word, all thanks to the efforts of Tom Penttinen and his lending library, “The Book Stops Here.” 

Named after the famous saying attributed to President Harry S. Truman, Penttinen said the idea to craft the library near his house first came to him after reading a story about a young boy in the Midwest who crafted a lending library of his own and installed it near his family’s house. As Penttinen tells it, the local home owners association forced the youth to remove the library, though it was later reinstalled after the local community backed the young bookworm.

Penttinen, who opted to have his own library approved before starting construction, said he began the project last summer. A woodworking hobbyist for the past 50 years, Penttinen said the structure was complete and erected in November before his supportive neighbors near his home off of North Monterra Vista Drive.

“It’s turned out real well, I am really happy with it,” Penttinen said. “It was something that I did in order to give back to the community, and I am hoping that people will see it and might get the same idea and do it somewhere else. It gets people talking together. They stop and look through it and the response has been great. I am happy with it.”

Karen and Jack Swanberg were just two of Penttinen’s neighbors who came out to support the lending library. 

Karen, and avid reader and one of the first book lenders, said she first learned of Penttinen’s plans when she saw him working with his saw in the garage. Struck by a bit of curiosity, Karen said she went over to see what her neighbor was doing, and was ecstatic to hear what was in store.

“I thought it was absolutely great,” she said. 

“It creates camaraderie and brings a bunch of different people together,” her husband added. “It’s there to stay.”

Since the library was installed benches were added to the neighborhood, giving readers and residents alike a chance to take a break and enjoy a good book. Several months have passed since he first installed the library, and Penttinen said that he has seen community members, residents and those just passing by make use– and has even seen a few DVDs pass through.

Donations haven’t been limited to local residents, Penttinen said. A native of Waukegan, Ill., Penttinen said that one of his high school classmates maintains a newsletter of sorts. After sending some photos and updates on his project, he said that he received a donation from a former classmate living in Washington, D.C.

Though The Book Stops Here has seen frequent use by the neighborhood, Penttinen said that he gladly accepts all donations, either to the library itself or made to him. Penttinen can be reached at 219-2489.

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