StoryWalk sign

This sign welcomes walkers to Lincoln Academy’s new StoryWalk, a project created by the LA Library. The walk features pages from Robert Frost’s Poetry for Young People spread over the course of the newly-improved  LA cross country trails. The public is invited to explore the trails, which can be accessed from the LA tennis court parking lot, anytime.

Walkers can now ponder classic poetry on a stroll through the woods, thanks to Librarians Cathi Howell and Jennifer Betts. Over the summer the Lincoln Academy maintenance crew built and installed signposts and then Howell and Betts added the laminated pages of Robert Frost’s Poetry for Young People along the cross country trails behind the LA baseball field.

People can engage with poems in two ways on the StoryWalk. They can simply stop and read the laminated pages on sign posts, or use a smartphone app to scan a code, and have the poems read aloud by members of the LA community.

Howell chose the volume of Frost poetry because she thought it would appeal to all ages, and be appropriate in an outdoor setting, especially since the poems in the book are arranged by season. She incorporated the AudioBoom technology after learning about it at a technology conference several years ago. AudioBoom allows the creators of local StoryWalks to create scannable links to custom audio files.

“StoryWalks are typically targeted to a younger audience but I always thought this idea could work with older students and multi-generational audiences,” Howell explained.

“I invited LA students and faculty members to read the poems and make the recordings,” explained Cathi Howell. “The response was overwhelming! We got a pretty even mix of students and faculty and staff members to record the poems. Some faculty members even did their recording during our staff outing at Wavus. You can actually hear birds chirping in the background as Jonathan Mess reads one poem!”

Howell had hoped to have the StoryWalk in place last fall, but the trail was too wet. She prepared the recordings and tried again last spring, but it was still too wet. “Finally,” she said, “with the great work done by the cross country team and other volunteers, as well as the dry summer, the trail is in great shape, and the StoryWalk is in place!”

Howell points out that the creation of the StoryWalk has been a team effort. She credits the LA maintenance crew for help placing signposts, Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont for creating the StoryWalk concept, and Bath Printing for the printing and lamination of the book pages.

The public is invited to explore the Lincoln Academy cross country trails–complete with five new bog bridges since May–and experience the StoryWalk anytime. To access the trails, visitors can park near the LA tennis courts and new baseball field, and enter either across from the courts or behind the baseball dugouts.