By Sue Botos
For many suburban children, the local library is a regular stop, either for an activity like a computer class, or to pick up a favorite DVD or book. But for those living in urban areas with limited transportation options, access to books may be difficult.
Thanks to a local Girl Scout troop, children living in a nearby Cleveland neighborhood will be able to visit a “Little Free Library.”
As part of their work toward their Bronze Award, members of Junior Troop 77146 designed and are collecting books for a Little Free Library to be installed in a “Cleveland Promise Neighborhood” near St. Vincent Hospital.
“We wanted the girls to think outside of their community,” explained troop leader Vicki Kressler who, along with co-leader Kathy Suhadolnik, met with their fifth-grade troop recently at Rocky River’s Home Depot to paint their library, which was being constructed by store workers.
Little Free Libraries were founded in Hudson, Wisc. by Todd Bol and Rick Brooks as a tribute to Bol’s mother, who was a book lover and teacher. He mounted a structure, resembling a large birdhouse and designed to look like a schoolhouse, on a post outside of his home. It was filled with books and a sign instructed “Take a book, leave a book.” According to the Little Free Library website, as of February, all 50 states and 40 countries are home to the structures.
The girls decided on a beach theme for their library, and were accessorizing a Barbie doll, reclining in a beach chair, with a supply of mini books. They explained that as part of their journey toward their Bronze Award, the highest recognition for junior scouts, they decided to do something with a theme of literacy as well as sustainability.
The troop’s book collection boxes at Rocky River Methodist Church and the city recreation center have been overflowing, and the scouts reported that they were well on their way to their goal of 450 books by the end of April.
On May 4, the troop will have a decorating party with the neighborhood children to put the finishing touches on the library, which, they said, will include fish, shells and other wooden cutouts. On May 14, the library will be officially installed.
Kressler added that the troop worked with the Cleveland Public Library to find a location for the library, which will be under the awning in front of the Friendly Inn, a community outreach center. “The neighborhood had been asking for (a library) and the Cleveland Public Library helped find the right place,” she said, adding that the public library will help keep the Little Free Library stocked.
“The majority of the people in the neighborhood don’t have the means to replace the books,” she stated.