Attention all Scouts! Building one or several Little Free Library book-sharing boxes is a great way to make a lasting impact on your community. Keep reading to see how Boy Scouts, ranging from Cub Scouts to Eagle Scouts, have increased book access in their communities through little libraries. And if you want more, check out these five Girl Scout success stories!
Nitish Chennoju in Santa Clara, California
How many: Nitish built three Little Free Library book boxes.
Funding: Funding for this project came in the form of both monetary donations and book donations. Thanks to the generosity of Boy Scout Troop 390, more than enough books were collected for the three libraries. As for monetary funding, Nitish hosted a bake sale during a Boy Scout troop meeting and raised $350, which was exactly what he had needed for all the materials required for 3 libraries.
Finding locations: Nitish sent out an email to family, friends, and the entire Boy Scout troop to gather a list of people who were willing to have a library in front of their house. He had more than three locations to choose from. From the list of possible locations, he picked houses that did not have any other little libraries within a one mile radius. He also ensured that the houses had a decent amount of foot traffic so the libraries were likely to be used by many people.
Tips for other Scouts: Definitely start planning your project early! Nitish shared that his project was somewhat of a special case in Eagle Scout projects due to there not being a specific beneficiary for the project.
Jennifer and Nathan Ward in Wayland, Michigan
How many: Jennifer’s son Nathan built three Little Free Library book boxes.
Funding: When researching fundraising options, Jennifer and Nathan learned of a grant offered from a local community foundation that awarded $1,000 for a community service project. All they had to do was get the highest number of votes through an online contest. They spread the word to their friends and family on social media and not only did they get the number of votes they needed, they won by a landslide!
With a good working budget, Nathan decided to buy the pre-built libraries from Little Free Library’s online store. He chose two that were made of recycled materials and really built to last through a Michigan winter. For his third library, the local United Way donated an old newspaper box to him. With the leftover funds he purchased bulk books from Scholastic and the materials needed to install the libraries.
Finding locations: When word got out that Nathan was doing this project, he was approached by a member of the community that wanted a library in her yard. In exchange for installing it, she agreed to steward the library; a win-win!
Nathan’s second library is located at the trailhead of the Rabbit River Trail. He picked this location because the trail is growing in popularity and there’s an assisted-living home for seniors along the trail, too. Residents often use their scooters on the paved parts of the trailhead. Plus within walking distrance there’s an apartment complex with lots of children, so he felt putting the library in that spot would offer books to people of all ages. This is the library that Jennifer and her family steward and they check on it weekly.
The third library is located outside of a business that sells board games and hosts game nights. In that strip mall there’s also a popular dance academy, so the newspaper box Little Free Library is located there. The owner of the game store is the official steward and has committed to maintaining it.
Tips for other Scouts: It’s important to think about the long-term plan for the libraries. Nathan was pushed by his Eagle Scout Board to identify a plan to make each library sustainable, and a key part of that was identifying local stewards to care for each one.
Brady Briggs in Guyton, Georgia
How many: Brady built one Little Free Library with the help of his grandfather.
Funding: Brady decided to build a little library during the Covid-19 quarantine when local public libraries were closed. This idea came when his mom and sister were both upset that they couldn’t go to the library as usual each week. So with his grandfather’s help, they built the library as a gift for his mom and sister who share a birthday.
Finding locations: Brady installed the library at his home and the whole family act as the library stewards.
Tips for other Scouts: Brady and his mom shared several tips for other Scouts:
1. Find a steward to run the library long term.
2. Get the word out locally about the library and ask for book donations to keep the library stocked.
3. Let the community know if you’re planning to build a little library. Many people will help by donating supplies, books, or even a location to install it. The more involved the community feels, the more they will help the library thrive in the long run.
4. Plan for things other than books. Many people share seeds, games, art supplies, and more. Build the library with these things in mind.
5. Reach out to other stewards to host book exchanges and build a network of support.
6. Get your den, troop leaders, and other Scouts to help you! Make it an ongoing effort throughout the year. Cub Scouts require a community service project each year, so collecting books and maintaining the library can help the community and the Scouts reach their goals.
Zachary Margrave in Martinsville, Virginia
How many: Zachary built five Little Free Library book-sharing boxes for his Eagle Scout project. He loves to read and wanted to do whatever he could to get others to read, too. His libraries are always running out of childrens’ books, but that’s a good thing because it means people are reading them!
Funding: All of the materials to build the libraries were donated through his dad’s work, a local contractor, and a couple from the local church. Zachary got the support of the area public libraries and they donated books they would otherwise discard. In return, Zachary and his family regularly purchase books when the public libraries do book sales. Friends of the Library groups and other community organizations gave books as well.
Finding locations: Zachary chose sites that were well maintained and with good traffic flow so lots of people would see the little libraries. He got approval from a soccer complex and the local marina to put one at each location, plus the director of the county Parks and Recreation department agreed to put two in parks and one on a walking trail.
Tips for other Scouts: Choose good locations where lots of people will see the libraries and educate your community about how the libraries work.
Ehren Zeleny in The Woodlands, Texas
How many: Ehren and his troop built one Little Free Library during the Covid-19 quarantine. That made it challenging, but they still adhered to social distancing guidelines. They had families sign up for time slots and each troop member came one at a time to help build and paint the library on Ehren’s porch.
Funding: Ehren used mostly recycled materials to keep costs down.
Finding locations: Ehren decided to place the library at Lamar Elementary in The Woodlands, Texas. He felt this area would benefit from having books readily available, especially with schools and public libraries closed during the Covid-19 quarantine.
Tips for other Scouts: Be flexible and innovative! That helped Ehren a lot as he worked through obstacles to completing this project. Having a great support system is helpful, too.