In December of 2016, Lincoln Academy students gave a gift to the community. They installed a Little Free Library outside the LA gym, and filled it with books that are free for the taking. LA’s Little Free Library is a project of the LA Library Team, a student organization that works with Lincoln Academy librarians to choose books, run programs, and volunteer in the Lincoln Academy library.
“With the Little Free Library, people can take and return books without worrying about due dates,” said Erin Dworkin, a Lincoln Academy ninth grader and member of the Library Team.
Little Free Library is a national organization that was founded in 2009 with the dual mission of supporting literacy and building community. According to the Little Free Library website, “Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse. It was a tribute to his mother; she was a teacher who loved to read. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it. He built several more and gave them away.”
Bol’s structures resemble miniature buildings with glass fronts, and are built on posts to rest at eye level. He eventually partnered with a University of Wisconsin professor to expand his mission, publishing designs for the structures and organizational ideas for Little Free Libraries around the country and the world.
Since the Little Free Library organization began spreading the idea, thousands of neighborhoods around the country have constructed tiny libraries.
Grace Sleeman, who graduated from Lincoln Academy in 2016 and was a member of the Library Team, suggested the idea of building a Little Free Library at Lincoln. The team started construction in the fall of 2016. With the help of Industrial Arts teacher Shawn St. Cyr, Librarians Cathi Howell and Jen Betts and Library Team members constructed the tiny library in the school’s ATEC building.
“This was a really exciting project to watch come together, said Howell. “We have several new members of the Library Team this year, and I when I posed this project to them they just ran with it. Shawn St. Cyr was great to work with as well. He would demonstrate a tool and hand it off to the kids. With his encouragement, we had kids who had never built anything before trying all types of equipment. They truly built this themselves, and they have a great deal of pride and ownership in their Little Free Library as a result.”
LA’s Little Free Library has been open for nearly 2 months, and there has been some traffic, but the team is hoping that as more people understand how the Library works, readers will start to take advantage of the resource. Howell says the library will be stocked with books for all ages, and she hopes people from the community, as well as LA students and staff, will “check out” the selection.
“We are committed to keeping the book selection fresh,” said ninth grader Ben McManus, another member of the LA Library Team. “We hope people will stop by and take a book or leave a book.”