Little Free Libraries Open for Business

Barrow Little Free Library

Barrow Little Free Library

After a year long project with last year’s 5th graders, our 2 Little Free Libraries are finally open for business.  This project has been one of the most meaningful ones that I have been a part of.  Just to highlight a few accomplishments of everyone involved:

  • After a post on the Barrow Media Center Facebook page that simply described a wish to have a LFL, teacher Sara Cross jumped on board to make this project happen in 5th grade.
  • Art teacher, Rita Foretich, along with her student teacher took a huge leadership role in creating multiple jobs for students, using Google sketchup to design libraries, and committing to painting the libraries in art.
  • Co-founder Rick Brooks took time out of his busy schedule to skype with our students to answer their questions and encourage them on their project.
  • Students in 5th grade wrote persuasive letters to multiple places which resulted in Lay Park becoming our 2nd location and Home Depot built and donated the 2 libraries and paint.
  • Students in 5th grade encouraged students in the whole school to donate books which resulted in about 18 boxes of used books to fill the libraries.  Other incredible supporters like Barrow grandparent, Camilla Bracewell, donated money to support the registration of the libraries and additional supply & book purchases.
  • Our project won the Eve Carson Service Learning Award at the 5th grade moving on ceremony

Our move into our new school delayed our installation a bit.  Mrs. Foretich kept the libraries over the summer and gave them some coats of clear coat to protect them from the weather.  Her husband also spent time making sure that the doors on the libraries opened smoothly after getting a bit sticky from the clear coat.

We entered this year with one big final step:  installation.  I should have known that once again our community would step up to support this project.  Susan Henderson, librarian at Fowler Drive, suggested that her neighbor Chase Cook, who is a Barrow parent, would be a good person to contact.  She even took time to ask him herself.  Chase was more than happy to help.  Another Barrow parent, Chris Adams, was suggested, and without hesitation he also agreed to help.  I was amazed that two parents who weren’t even involved in the project along the way were so willing to step up and offer their talents and service to this project.  Chase and Chris spent a hot Friday afternoon digging the holes at Barrow and Lay Park and installing both libraries.  I can’t thank them enough for their time and hard work.

Refilling the Barrow Little Free Library

Refilling the Barrow Little Free Library

On Sunday September 8, I filled the Barrow Little Free Library with books.  The Barrow library features our school theme of “Where am I in the world?”  You’ll find the tree that owns itself, Georgia peaches and peanuts, the GA flag & US flag, and GA football.  This week on our morning news show, I showed a video to all students explaining what this new mysterious box was all about.

The afternoon after the video was shown was a busy time for our library and it was almost empty that day as students were eager to take home a book.  We’ve already had to refill it once.

Lay Park Library

Lay Park Library

On Monday September 9, Randy Haygood opened the Lay Park Little Free Library.  This library features an old Barrow school look.  A giant sun radiates from the roof and the back features a beautiful flower garden.  I delivered 6 boxes of books to him so that he would have books to refill the library for a few weeks.  I can’t wait to see how this little library supports reading at Lay Park and the surrounding communities.

Lay Park Library back view

Lay Park Library back view

These libraries are truly a gift.  They represent so many voices, ideas, and creativity from students, parents, grandparents, and our community.  Thank you Athens community for supporting this project.  Enjoy these libraries for years to come.

 

The Award-Winning 5th Grade Little Free Library Project

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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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Painting our Little Free Libraries

Paint generously donated by the Athens Oconee Home Depot

Paint generously donated by the Athens Oconee Home Depot

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an update on our 2 Little Free Libraries.  We’ve had so many end-of-the-year events that it has slowed us down a bit.  Mrs. Foretich, our art teacher, and I sat down and looked at the designs that student groups submitted and narrowed it down to the 2 designs.  One will feature things that show “where I am in the world”.  It will include GA & US symbols as well as some Athens symbols.  The other design features a sun shine with a red color that resembles the bricks of Barrow school.  Ms. Foretich worked with Kenneth Sims and other employees at the Athens-Oconee Home Depot to select paints, and once again Home Depot generously donated these items.  I can’t say “Thank You” enough to this business.  They have been a huge supporter of this project.

While the 5th grade is practicing for the Moving On Ceremony and making music videos in music class, Mrs. Foretich is pulling small groups to paint.  Students primed both libraries first.  Then, designs were drawn on in pencil before beginning the painting process.  Students repeatedly went back to the paper designs and also talked with the designers to make sure the design was staying true to the vision.  Students even worked on mixing paints to get various shades of colors that were needed on the libraries.IMG_0715

Next week, Mrs. Foretich and I will travel to Lay Park and meet with Randy Haygood to discuss the exact location of our second library.  KenDarius, a Barrow 5th grader, is working on a plan for some rising 4th & 5th graders to deliver books to this library throughout next year as it needs to be filled.  He will join us next week when we meet with Randy.

Throughout this project, we’ve tried to keep students at the center.  They have been a part of almost every decision in the project and were instrumental in getting us the supplies that we needed through their carefully written letters.  Of course, this student involvement has stretched this project to a year-long project, but I think it just shows how when you take time to allow students to participate in the process, rich and rewarding experiences and learning occur.

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!
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5th graders immediately came to see the 2 libraries

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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