Starting a Little Free Library: 5 Girl Scout Success Stories

By Megan Hanson

We’ve noticed a pretty wonderful trend these past few years. More and more Girl Scouts are choosing to build and install Little Free Library book boxes for their communities.

Keep reading and you’ll meet a Girl Scout who built 42 Little Free Libraries and ran a library decorating contest; you’ll learn how one Brownie Troop built a library and used it as part of their Geocacheing Day Camp; and you’ll get advice from fellow Girl Scouts on how to raise funds and choose the right spot to install a Little Free Library.

These five success stories also feature tips, best practices, and photos from Girl Scouts who have successfully started a Little Free Library (or several!) in their towns.

Danielle Heiert, Campbell County, Kentucky: Gold Award

How many: Danielle built 42 Little Free Libraries as part of her Gold Award!

Funding: Danielle said that she ran several fundraisers, and that a great deal of the funds to build her Libraries came from the Campbell County Friends of the Library group.

Finding locations: She recruited Ryan Salzman, a member of the Bellevue, KY, city council, to be a member of her team as she worked on her project. He handled getting the correct permits from the city, and made sure that all Library recipients knew where they could legally install their Libraries.

Special aspects: Danielle decided to run a Library decorating contest, both for fun, and to get more people in her community involved in her project. As she gave away each of her 42 Libraries to community members, she encouraged them to decorate their Libraries based on one of three themes: Books, Realistic (similar to the home/building where the Library would be installed), and Creative.

A few months later, “judging day” for her Library decorating contest rolled around. She, along with a few other community members, reviewed the completed designs of all of the Libraries and awarded first, second, and third place prizes. By the time “judging day” arrived, the contest had been so well-publicized in local media that a bunch of people showed up just to see the final designs!

Tips for other Scouts: Don’t get discouraged if your project doesn’t turn out exactly the way you planned! Danielle’s first idea was to make a reading garden for her public library, but she didn’t have enough funding. So she kept researching and discovered Little Free Libraries, and went from there.

Danielle West, Elizabethtown, Kentucky: Gold Award

How many: She built one Library using a Little Free Library Kit sold by Little Free Library.

Funding: Danielle could not directly solicit funds, so she asked her mother to reach out to friends, family, and church members on her behalf. She also ran a fundraiser selling bed linens.

Finding locations: To get her project approved, she had to demonstrate why she chose to build a Little Free Library, and the benefits of installing it at her chosen location.

She said this was the most difficult part of the project; it required a lot of research about the demographics of her town.

She ultimately chose the area of town that had the lowest average income, and the lowest average level of education. Danielle requested approval from the city to install her Little Library in a public park. The city agreed, provided a post to help her install the Library, and the Mayor even came to her Grand Opening Ceremony!

Tips for other Scouts: Keep going as long as you have to to get your project approved. Danielle had to submit her Gold Award proposal four times before it was finally approved!

Brownie Troop #2724, Haslet, Texas

How many: The troop built one Library. The pieces were pre-cut for them, but the girls assembled the Library from scratch.

Funding: The girls used funds from their Girl Scout Cookie selling season in 2016. They chose to split their earnings by donating some to a local animal rehabilitation program, and using the rest to build and install a Little Free Library.

Finding locations: The troop placed the Library in the community clubhouse where they hold their weekly meetings as a way of giving back to the neighborhood that allowed them to use the space.

Special aspects: There is a small picture frame with a photo of the troop installed on the back of the Library. They also had a Geocacheing Day Camp to learn about map reading and compass skills. As part of the camp, the girls added a geocache to their Little Library.

Elizabeth Longo, Portland, Texas: Gold Award

How many: Elizabeth built 10 Libraries total; five that would be placed in public parks, and five that served as back-ups.

Funding: She used money from her Girl Scout Cookie selling season, and she asked local hardware and home goods stores to donate the materials she needed to build the Libraries.

Finding locations: She wanted her Little Libraries to be available to the whole community, so she decided to work with the city. She set up a meeting with the Director of the Parks and Recreation Department to get permission to install her Libraries in public parks.

Tips for other Scouts: Just do it! Take the first step and don’t give up.

Girl Scout Troop #28843, Connoquenessing, Pennsylvania

How many: The troop built one Library as their take-action project for the World of Girls journey.

Funding: They used their Girl Scout Cookie and MagNut sale funds, and got family and friends to donate materials.

Finding locations:  This was tough. The Troop Leaders asked several local businesses if they would be interested in the Library, but they didn’t have any luck until they spoke with the Connoquenessing Borough Council. The troop attended a Council Meeting, brought their Little Library, explained how it worked, and why its ability to provide access to books was important. The Council allowed them to install the Library in a public park that wasn’t close to the public library.

Special aspects: They’re planning to plant a garden, build a bench, and paint a mural on the wall behind the Library in their future take-action projects.

So what are you waiting for? A Little Free Library is a fun, meaningful way to impact your community and increase access to books. These Scouts already did it, and you can, too!

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