The Award-Winning 5th Grade Little Free Library Project


Our Little Free Library was presented to the school during the 5th Grade Moving On Ceremony

Today was our 5th grade Moving On Ceremony.  This is a very special day where every 5th grader is honored for their time at our school. Our teachers worked together to write tweets about each student to highlight some of their great qualities.  Another portion of the ceremony is awards.  Again, this is a very special time because so many students are honored for their many gifts:  academics, citizenship, service, creativity, and more.  Among the awards are some memorial awards which honor Barrow Buddies who were taken from our world way too soon.  The Eve Carson Service Learning Award is one of those awards.  The award is described in this way.

Eve Carson

Several ideas are important at Barrow School—learning, service and fun. Service-Learning—the intentional connection of service and learning is something we are growing here. Service-Learning adds the very important part of self-reflection to a project. Through Service-Learning you come to understand yourself and your world in a different way.Well, when we put together service, learning and fun we quite naturally thought of Eve Carson. Eve was an outstanding Barrow Buddy who continued to lead an outstanding academic and personal life. As difficult as it is today to not have Eve here, we are so thankful for her example of living a meaningful life and for the inspiration she will continue to give Barrow Buddies through the years. Each year hereafter, an award in her name will be given in honor of a service learning project completed by a class or group at Barrow Pre-K-5th Grade.

This year, I nominated the 5th grade Little Free Library Project for this award.  It exemplifies service learning because every Barrow 5th grader was involved in the project in multiple ways.  Students learned so much about a commitment to serving their community and thinking beyond just ourselves.  Today, we learned that our project was chosen as this year’s recipient of the Eve Carson Service Learning Memorial Award.  I am honored that our project will be listed on the memorial plaque among so many other inspiring projects that have served our Barrow community and beyond.  Sarah James, Barrow 5th grader, presented one of the Little Free Libraries as the gift to our school during the ceremony.  Our 5th graders should be very proud of their accomplishment that will provide more access to free books for our community for years to come.

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More Great Little Free Library News

Labels, bumper stickers, ideas, and more were in our package from Little Free Libraries.

Labels, bumper stickers, ideas, and more were in our package from Little Free Libraries.

I love that I get to continue to share great news from our Little Free Library Project.  Here are some more great things that have happened:

  • We were approved to put our library at Lay Park.  This was in response to a student letter and a great phone call with Randy Haygood, facility supervisor
  • Camilla Bracewell, amazing superhero library volunteer & Barrow grandparent, became a supporter of our project through a donation and conversations with people in the community.
  • Our Little Free Libraries are now registered.  We received our signs in the mail!
  • Our libraries are now in art waiting to be painted once we have a design decided.
Our official signs will be mounted on our libraries once they are painted.

Our official signs will be mounted on our libraries once they are painted.

I love that the signs are made from reclaimed wood from Wisconsin's Amish Country.

I love that the signs are made from reclaimed wood from Wisconsin’s Amish Country.

Exciting Little Free Library News

Kenny Sims, Operations Manager with Athens Home Depot, donates the 2 Little Free Libraries to Barrow

Kenny Sims, Operations Manager with Athens Home Depot, donates the 2 Little Free Libraries to Barrow

Two major things happened today with our Little Free Libraries.  I began talks with a possible location for our 2nd library and our 2 libraries were delivered by Home Depot!

I have to say again that we went into this project with a lot of faith in our community and amazing things are happening.  Here are a few recent things:

  • Several students from other grades have come to tell me that they are cleaning out their home libraries to bring us books that they no longer need.
  • Several people have brought in books to fill the libraries already.
  • People donated money during the book fair which was almost enough to register both of our libraries.  The 5th graders are about to each bring in $1, which will help us reach that goal.  Our library numbers will be 5559 and 5560
  • A student who wrote a persuasive letter was beaming when he found out that his letter had been received by the recipient.
  • Home Depot #0129 continues to be a very generous donor to this project.  They have built and donated both libraries and are now working with our art teacher to get supplies for painting the 2 libraries.  They will also help us with the final supplies for installing both libraries.  I can’t thank them enough for their generosity.  They definitely have my future home improvement business!

5th graders immediately came to see the 2 libraries

IMG_0366 IMG_0365

Little Free Library Progress Update

Athens Home Depot is building and donating 2 Little Free Libraries for us to decorate

Athens Home Depot is building and donating 2 Little Free Libraries for us to decorate

Very exciting news! We just heard from Home Depot in Athens that our 2 Little Free Libraries are almost ready for delivery to the school. Kenneth Simms, Operations Manager, sent us a photo of the progress late last night. We can’t wait to get these libraries to our school to begin decorating them in art!  We can’t thank Home Depot enough for all they are doing!

Second Little Free Library

Joel typed his letter, conference with me and his teachers, addressed his envelope, and dropped it in the mail

Joel typed his letter, conference with me and his teachers, addressed his envelope, and dropped it in the mail

We are currently looking for a home for our 2nd Little Free Library that is being built by Home Depot.  Our school attendance zone stretches from Five Points into downtown Athens, so the students wanted a library to go in each end of our zone.  Many of our students live near Lay Park, Lyndon House, and the downtown fire department so they really want our 2nd library to go near that area.  Today, a letter was mailed out to Lay Park by a student who goes to Lay Park a lot.  Many of our students use this space during the summer and after school, so it really would be a perfect spot for our 2nd library.  Students who live in that area could take books from our school donation site and make sure the library stays full.  It would be a great source of community service and responsibility for our students.  I’m sure that there will be many steps to get approval to put a library in a spot like this.  Now, we will wait and see what the response is from the county and Lay Park, but we are going o think positive thoughts for now.

Joel's letter explains LFL and makes a personal connection

Joel’s letter explains LFL and makes a personal connection


Little Free Library Update

A display is ready to inform shoppers at our book fair about our Little Free Library project

A display is ready to inform shoppers at our book fair about our Little Free Library project

We have very exciting news in our 5th grade Little Free Library project.  Before spring break about 14 kids mailed letters to Home Depot in Athens to ask if they could support our project with some materials.  Kenneth Sims, operation manager, emailed me back to ask for a specific list of what we needed.  After some more research on the Little Free Library site and consulting with my talented Dad, I sent him a list of what we would need.  I knew the list was a lot to ask for, so I told him that we would appreciate anything that they could do.

He emailed me back with great news.  Home Depot is donating all of the materials we need to build the libraries, building both libraries for us, delivering them to our school for the kids to decorate, and helping us install them when the time comes.  I was absolutely floored.  I even got a call from the builder before he started the project to just make sure that all of the plans that they were doing fit with what we needed.  I can’t wait to share pictures with you of our project.

We went into this project with a lot of faith that our community would come through for us to make this project happen.  It is so great to know that a major business in the community is so giving of their resources in the name of children, community, and literacy.

Now, we have a lot of work to do, but one major weight is lifted off our shoulders.  The kids were beaming when I went to their classes to share the news with them.  One student in particular was very excited because we realized that she included my email address in her letter in order for the manager to contact us.  She was the only student to do this.

Our next steps include:

  • Painting the designs on our libraries
  • Nailing down our second location with some more persuasive letters
  • Raising money for the registration of the libraries
  • Doing a book drive to fill the libraries and have a stock pile of books to replenish the libraries
  • Writing speeches to present the libraries at the Moving On Ceremony.
  • Installing the downtown library in its location
  • Probably some things we haven’t thought of!

If you would love to help us with our project, we are wide open for help.  One way you could help us is by purchasing a book at our book fair next week or shopping our wishlist at our online book fair through April 5th.  Here’s info on our online fair:

It’s Book Fair time at our school! I’ve created a classroom wish list to add new books to our classroom library. You can view my classroom wish list and purchase books from our school Book Fair website. These books will be treasured by students for years to come.

You can visit our online Book Fair anytime until 04/05/2013. All books purchased will be shipped directly to me at school with no shipping charge. Thanks for getting our class excited about reading.

Your support is appreciated,

Andy Plemmons

Scholastic Book Fairs inspire a lifetime love of reading. A percentage of the total proceeds raised during the Book Fair will stay with the school and help get more kids reading, kids reading more! Visit the Book Fair Web site for detailed information.


Skyping with Little Free Library

IMG_0082Our 5th grade Little Free Library Project is moving ahead.  You can read about our progress here and here.  A few weeks ago, I talked with Rick Brooks, co-founder of the Little Free Library movement, on the phone.  He contacted me after seeing my Youtube video introducing the project to our 5th graders.  After a few emails and facebook posts back and forth, we finally had a long phone conversation where we discussed other Little Free Library projects in schools as well as some potential ways that technology could be incorporated into our Barrow project.  I shared with him how our students were working in teams where each student had a specific job to do such as researching, writing, designing, and presenting.  During our call, he offered to help us in any way he was able to, so I suggested a Skype session with our students.  He was happy to do this.IMG_0080

On Tuesday and Thursday, Rick skyped with researchers, writers, and task managers from Ms. Cross and Ms. Slongo’s Class.  He told them a bit about the mission and vision of Little Free Libraries, shared specific parts of the website students might visit, and suggested some videos for them to watch.  The kids were able to ask Rick questions about things like green building techniques, location of little free libraries, and which libraries seemed to be more popular than others.  We even had a student have a conversation with Rick in Spanish.IMG_0084

IMG_0081More than anything, this Skype session made the project more “real” for the students.  They left the session with a new energy for the project.  Rick is following what we do, and we appreciate the time and energy that he has put into this worldwide movement and especially for taking time out of his busy schedule to support our small project here in Athens!


5th Grade Little Free Library Project Part 2

Students designed on paper before using Google Sketchup

Students designed on paper before using Google Sketchup

Our 5th grade Little Free Library Project is picking up speed.  Thanks to the amazing collaboration of Rita Foretich and her student teacher, this project is really getting off the ground.  In art, students from both 5th grade classes have been split into teams of 4-5 students.  Each team has a lead designer, a task manager, a researcher, a writer, and a presenter.  Each job has specific responsibilities which Ms. Foretich and her student teacher constantly check in on.  They also give the task managers checklists to help them check in with each person on the team.

The student teacher is a Google Sketchup expert, so she has the lead designers using this tool to design a potential Little Free Library.  Students have made sketches on paper and moved to Google Sketchup to create a model of their library.  Presenters are putting together a presentation to inform our audience about each library design.  We may end up having the principal choose 2 designs or we may move forward with a student vote. LFL 4

The researchers and writers are working with me in the library to research the Little Free Library site for information about building the actual structure.  As we research the many tips on the site, we are considering other topics that we may need to research such as reusing materials and green building techniques.  We’re thinking of careers that we may need to research in order to identify experts to connect with or people to target for persuasive writing.  The writers are writing persuasive letters to send to potential donors, builders, or collaborators on this project.  They are also considering persuasive tweets they may need to craft for me to tweet out to target audiences for support.

5th graders used the Google Research tool in Google Docs to look for reading statistics

5th graders used the Google Research tool in Google Docs to look for reading statistics

I’m also working with the 5th grade classes on persuasive writing techniques.  We used the Read Write Think powerpoint of strategies and thought about what information we might include underneath each strategy.  I also showed them the research tool within Google Docs.  The students (and teachers) were excited that you could search for a topic such as “reading statistics” to find quotes about reading in the United States and automatically cite the source within your Google Doc.  I think this tool alone will spill over into many other projects now that the students know how to use it!  All 5th graders are writing letters to businesses, builders, parents, students, and other groups in order to ask for money, labor, supplies, books, and a location for our 2nd library.  The teachers are continuing this writing in the regular classroom as well as exploring the Little Free Library site for additional information.  One student was even able to locate a Little Free Library from his hometown in India!

Google Sketchup is proving to be a helpful tool in design

Google Sketchup is proving to be a helpful tool in design

I can’t wait to see where this project goes because it is certainly exploring many of the standards that our 5th graders work on in a variety of areas.









A team checks in with one another before starting individual work

A team checks in with one another before starting individual work


Little Free Library 5th Grade Project

I’ve known about Little Free Libraries for awhile now, and since I learned about them I wanted to help establish one at our school.  I was waiting for just the right moment.  This summer I attended the Decatur Book Festival and saw several creative Little Free Libraries that were being auctioned off and it made me want to establish one even more.  I posted a picture of the libraries on our media center facebook page and immediately Ms. Cross, a 5th grade teacher, said she wanted to help make this happen at our school.  Her comment made me think about the gift that our 5th grade gives to the school at Moving On Ceremony at the end of each year as a way for the 5th graders to make their mark on the school before they leave.  Since our 5th graders won’t get the opportunity to go to school in our brand new building next year, I thought this year’s gift needed to be extra special.  I had found the perfect fit for the idea.

I began talking with people at our school about the project.  As always, our art teacher, Rita Foretich, was on board to help weave this project into an interdisciplinary experience.  Other teachers in the school that don’t even work with our 5th graders began offering ideas too and within a few days our spark of idea was really starting to grow.

I sat down with Mrs. Foretich and we did an initial brainstorming of what our project might look like.  We thought of materials, resources, locations, and also a sequence of events that would need to happen in order for the project to be done by the end of the year.  Our plan consisted of:  an intro to Little Free Libraries for the whole 5th grade, persuasive writing in 5th grade classroom, continued research and conversation in the media center, and little free library designs and artwork in art.  I took our plan to the 5th grade team for feedback and additions.  The teachers brainstormed ways for the students to really take ownership of the project such as donating their own books to stock the libraries and bringing in $1 each to cover the registration for the 2 libraries.

We launched into the first phase right after this session.  I made a short introduction video using screencast-o-matic and uploaded it to Youtube.  Mrs. Foretich showed the video at the beginning of an art class.

As she showed it, the kids immediately began having ideas and wanting to contribute them.  She developed a Google form to share with the students so that they could all submit their feedback without taking up too much of the class time to hold a discussion.  Mrs. Foretich’s student teacher also began contributing her knowledge and connections to UGA.

The next step will be for the student to brainstorm more about the materials, labor, and location so that they can begin writing persuasive letters to individuals and organizations for support.

Our goal is to create 2 Little Free Libraries by the end of the year.  One will be installed at the new Barrow and one will be installed somewhere near downtown so it is accessible to our students and the community on that end of town.  Who knows what this project will develop into, but it is already full of participatory culture as more and more people contribute their ideas, their expertise, and their creativity.

If you have ideas or resources for this project, feel free to leave them in the comments or contact our library.

Tell Your #whylib Story for School Library Month



April is School Library Month, and this year’s theme is “Lives Change @ Your Library”.  This theme connects with Barbara Stripling’s campaign to sign the Declaration for the Right to School Libraries to show that school libraries really do change our lives.

Yesterday on Twitter, John Schu shared a thought about going to library school, and he had no idea the conversation that his tweet would open up.

library school

I responded by sharing a brief glimpse at how I didn’t get in to library school on my first attempt.  The conversation continued with more of our Twitter professional learning network sharing stories of perseverance, stories about professional background, and stories of how becoming a librarian changed their lives.

even more library school

more library school

When I woke up this morning, the list of tweets had grown and more people had commented on how much they were enjoying the conversation about individual people’s journeys to becoming a librarian.  I love this about Twitter.  I love how one little comment can spark a conversation among colleagues across the country because they find a connection with the comment.  This morning, we decided that a new hashtag had been born.  After some discussion, the talented Jennifer Reed suggested #whylib as our hashtag.

Even author, Deborah Freedman, jumped in on the conversation with her love of the librarians.

author library school

We invite you to share your story in any way that you are moved:  a poem, a video, a blog post, a series of tweets, a picture collection, a song, etc.  Be sure to tag your story with #whylib and post on Twitter and other social media outlets.  Let’s share our journey to becoming a librarian and share how libraries have changed our lives.