By Jess Wisloski
The playground might be a place where where people go to climb and swing, but the Girl Scouts are giving folks a way to get lost too — in a book that is.
Girl Scout Troop 30374 cut the ribbon on a “Little Free Library” last Friday, making it possible to double-duty when you’re at the Williston Central School playground, by also freshening up your book collection.
“It’s helpful if someone is watching their kids play, you can take a book and keep it and later come back and put another one back,” explained Bella Holmberg, one of the Scouts, about how it works. So while it takes the name of “library,” it’s really more of a weatherproof, public book-swap.
“The Little Library is like a mini library where you take a book or leave a book,” added Emily Gay, referring to the larger movement of the Little Free Libraries, which have been popping up all over the country since a Wisconsin man erected one in his yard in 2009, in tribute to his mother, according to an article in the Atlantic. Williston’s new library, which is stationed at the entrance to the preschoolers playground at WCS, is on the national registry of Little Free Libraries at littlefreelibrary.org.
The project was the troop’s year-round effort, and started with coming up with an idea of what would be a good project that might also serve the community. The Scouts then ordered the premade library hutch online from Etsy, and painted it with a nature theme they all agreed upon.
“We really wanted it to be something that would benefit the whole community and it rose to the top of our list as a great community project that would also take us all year to do,” said Erin Carmichael, a troop leader. “It was a fun theme to tie in through the year,” she added.
They got a good idea of that tie-in, said Erin Carmichael, a troop leader, after having to go to two different committees at Town Hall. “First we went to the Town Hall [and the Williston Historical Society]. They asked us all these questions,” she said. The next stage was appearing before the Development Review Board, she said, which oversaw the final approval process.
It’s a good thing they did, too: Since they wanted to put the library on public land, they would have to go before the Development Review Board, but across the country libraries in the movement have been shut down by communities where neighbors want to put a kibosh on homeowners adding any unpermitted structure on their lawn, the Atlantic article noted.
The girls in Troop 30374 know little of that, however, and are just glad they got to see the day when theirs could open its tiny, glass-fronted door.
Fundraising for the library came from a bake sale during a WCS basketball game, explained Abby Niquette, one of the Scouts.
“We each made homemade treats and we sold those, and we made all the money we needed to buy the Little Free Library,” she said.
Though the $150 earned from the sale went pretty far, Kate Ruwet, one of the troop leaders, said a “business donor” helped pay for the rest of what was needed to cover the completion of the project. As an ongoing part of their work, the girls will keep checking to make sure the library has books. They hope to keep a diverse selection for all reading levels in stock.
“It could be a great way to cycle out the stuff you’re not reading anymore to keep it fresh,” said Carmichael.