Catherine Cryan Erney was once a page at the Westerville Public Library.

Catherine Cryan Erney was once a page at the Westerville Public Library.

"My very first job," the Clintonville resident recalled last week. "I was 14. I could work two hours a day after school shelving books. It was a very neat thing.

"All my friends were jealous. I made 75 cents an hour. Baby-sitting at the time was 50 cents, so it was a real big deal."

Several months ago, Cliff Wiltshire, development director for the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center and former editor of The Booster, said he felt there was a need to improve what was loosely called the "children's corner" in what was then the CRC's headquarters on West Lakeview Avenue.

"There was a client with small children, and while their mother was busy with a caseworker, I struggled to find a couple of nice little kids' books for them to enjoy and eventually bring home," Wiltshire wrote in an email. "I finally did, and their faces lit up when presented the books, which inspired me to post the message."

The message was posted to a Facebook page devoted to Clintonville discussion.

That's where Erney's fond memories of her first job and Wiltshire's desire to have books for the children of CRC clients converged.

"I responded, 'OK, we'll make that happen,' " said Erney, who runs an online commercial real estate database.

"Kids and books -- it's a magical thing," she added.

"She ran with it, and all the credit goes to her for rallying some troops," Wiltshire said.

The result is that a children's library is taking shape inside what was, coincidentally, the neighborhood's first public library.

Erney also used social media to solicit books, bookshelves and other items to remake the "children's corner" into a proper children's library.

"The response was amazing," she said.

Erney said "easily 20 different families" and others donated books. She left a box on her front porch where people could leave them.

"Coming home from work, it was like Christmas," Erney said.

"The area was kind of set up already," Wiltshire said. "It was sort of off in the corner with some bookshelves, but a lot of older books, pretty worn down, not always age-appropriate. It made sense to kind of reinject life into that already.

"Books are one of those gifts that keep on giving."

Wiltshire said the process of setting up the space likely will continue until the middle of June or so, when the walls are freshly painted and carpeting is installed. That said, 16 bags and 20 boxes of books, five bookshelves and some rugs already have been moved to 14 W. Lakeview Ave., and the Clintonville MOMS Club has donated $100 to the budding library.

"And one darling little chair," Erney said, adding her neighbor is making floor pillows for children to sit on.

A local Lions Club has donated to the project, as has Half Price Books. Erney also obtains children's books through quarterly sales by the Friends of the Grandview Library.

Since Erney began her children's library campaign in earnest, CRC officials closed a deal to acquire a nearby building that will provide space for administrative offices and other functions, helping free up some room in the once-cramped headquarters.

"The new building has allowed us to start reviewing what we're going to do with the space at 14 W. Lakeview, and we're excited that this children's corner will be part of that effort," Wiltshire wrote in his email.

"It's what I love about Clintonville," Erney said. "Everyone has their opinion, and everyone's happy to share their opinion. But if you need help, everyone is there."

"It's pretty amazing," Wiltshire said. "People just jump into action a lot of the times."

"There's always a need for books," Erney said. "Right now, we have a supply that's almost overwhelming. I have sources for a continuing supply of books so they will be able to both lend and give.

"One thing that blew me away was the quality of the books and the good taste in reading material."

One person, Erney said, donated a copy of Make Way for Ducklings, the children's classic that was the inspiration for the annual Duckling Day event at the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Wiltshire said those interested may contact him at 614-268-3539 to make arrangements to drop off children's books at 14 W. Lakeview Ave.

"I think the hope is we will continue to replenish the supply," he said.