Tri-Village News

Students make mini-libraries a community effort

Edison, Larson students enlist teachers, parents in creating pair of neighborhood book boxes

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Two new libraries soon will open in Grandview Heights -- both considerably smaller than the Grandview Public Library.

The pair of Little Free Libraries have been founded by fourth- and fifth-grade students from Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School, who also will serve as caretakers.

The Little Free Library movement is a worldwide concept "that's happening from Africa to Columbus, Ohio, to California," said Edison/Larson media specialist Kristi Jump.

A Little Free Library is simply a box full of books that groups or residents place in their community, Jump said.

Anyone is invited to visit a Little Free Library, take a book to read and bring back another book to share, she said.

"The concept is 'take a book, return a book,' " Jump said.

The Grandview project is entirely student-driven, she said.

Students viewed a video about the Little Free Library movement on its learning, a new learning management system the school district is using, Jump said.

"They were so enthusiastic about the concept and about wanting to have it in Grandview," she said. "When I saw how excited they were, I was ready to climb aboard, too."

The fifth and sixth grades have formed groups to work on the project and have been going through a step-by-step process involving research and discussion to determine the scope of the project, Jump said.

"They are using a rubric on the itslearning system to guide them," she said. "Each group is putting together a trifold with their recommendations for who the Little Free Library should serve, possible books that could be included, using Google Maps and Google Earth to decide where they think the libraries should be located, and coming up with a design of how they think the outside of the library boxes should look."

The students soon will vote on the location and design for the libraries, Jump said.

"I think the consensus they have is that our Little Free Libraries should serve 'tween' age to adults and be placed at Stevenson and Edison schools, perhaps by a crosswalk," she said. "The feeling is that the schools are a good central location that people would pass on their way to and from school."

Befitting a community project, the students are getting help from teachers, high school students and residents, Jump said.

High school industrial arts teacher Brad Gintert has donated the material to make one of the boxes, and Grandview High School student Ellie McLeod is using the school's CNC router to make it, she said.

Grandview residents Leonard and Julie Whitley will donate the materials for and build the second portable library, Jump said.

"It can cost up to $900 to buy a Little Free Library container, so we are so appreciative of having the materials donated and the work being done for us," she said.

Several art students at the high school will paint the boxes using the designs voted on by the fourth and fifth grades, Jump said.

The Little Free Libraries are expected to be up and available for the community's use before the end of May, she said.

"We hope to hold a ceremony before the end of the school year," Jump said.

Each portable library is expected to hold about 25 books at a time, she said.

"We're holding a book drive and asking students to bring in books that can be used to stock the libraries," Jump said.

The students will serve as caretakers for the libraries, checking them to make sure they have not been vandalized, that the books are in good shape and that the containers do not need repairs, she said.

"We already have a full set of volunteers signed up to take care of them through the summer," Jump said.

The Little Free Library will serve a need in the community, fifth-grader Brynne Obringer said.

"I've always wanted a place that's on your way where you could go to and get a book," she said. "Sometimes the library isn't open or it's not convenient to get to.

"I also like the idea that you can take a book and leave a book, too," Brynne said.

Students are "pretty excited" about doing a project not just for school, but for the entire community, she said.

The project "takes a lot of work, but it will be worth it," fifth-grader Julian Yue said. "It will be nice for people who don't have a lot of books.

"I just hope it will last," he said.

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