Oakes-Beitman Library adds free Aunt Flow dispensers


PLEASANT HILL — The Oakes-Beitman Memorial Library have taken steps to provide free and accessible tampons and pads to menstruating individuals in their public restrooms.

“The dispenser is like any period product dispenser you would see in a restroom, except it is all free. The dispenser holds both pads and tampons, and the design is easy to use,” said Angie Hellman, library manager.

The project started when a staff member, Kelleyann Hall, talked about the free period products movement with Hellman and the possibility of the library being a place that provides those supplies.

“The staff thought it would be nice for patrons who happened to be at the library when their period started. Patrons wouldn’t have to leave suddenly or ask staff members for supplies,” Hellman said.

According to a press release, donations from resident Sharon Bledsoe and Jackson Sarver Funeral Home were used to fund the dispensers.“The library would like to thank the donors,” said Hellman.

The startup cost for the project was $495 with $200 for the dispenser. The library ordered 500 tampons and 500 pads for $125 each plus shipping.

“As the project continues, the only cost will be for tampons and pads, and shipping costs,” commented Hellman.

The dispensers hold 50 of each and while the library hasn’t had to refill the dispenser yet, Hellman said they have noticed “there has been some use, and (they) hope that the use continues.”

“This project even has a historic tie. Ellie Oakes Beitman Wampler, upon her death in 1952, bequeathed her house and farmland income to establish The Oakes-Beitman Memorial Library. Her will mentioned that besides a library, she also wanted her home to be used for public restrooms. Free menstrual products make the restroom even more accessible to the public, said Hellman.

“Menstrual equity is a relatively new phrase and one that might make some people blush,” said Rachelle Via, library director at Troy-Miami County Public Library. “But I’m excited that Angie brought this project to Pleasant Hill and we hope to be able to replicate it at our restrooms in Troy in 2023. Teens can often start menstruating unexpectedly and that’s not fun. And statistics show that one out of every three low-income women have missed work, school, or other outings because of a lack of supplies. It’s just the right thing to do to offer these products for free.”

The library invites any menstruating individual to utilize their dispensers.

“We don’t want you to miss being at school, work, the library, or anywhere in the community because there aren’t any period supplies,” said Hellman. “We would also like to thank anyone who supports the project, whether it is in future donations or by spreading the word so others can benefit.”

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