Check it out: Youth-built little library

Members of Engage prepare to install a free little library and bench on a playground at Madison-Plains Local Schools: (from left) Kenyon Brown, Zach Freer, Zed Mossburg and Renick Kelly.

(Posted Aug. 11, 2017)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

A group of teens is providing a new way to engage young readers.

On July 28, the group installed a little free library, complete with an attached bench, at the playground behind Madison-Plains Elementary. It’s the first of two such installations—a similar little library and bench will go up at London Elementary.

The teens are part of Engage, a program that helps youths transition into adulthood through socialization and activities in a positive atmosphere. Amanda Hampton, Madison County’s family services and prevention education programs manager, serves as the group’s advisor.

Most of the members who participated in the little library project are students in the London and Madison-Plains school districts. Also lending a hand were older youths and young adults served by the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Hunter Price puts the base coat on a little free library to be installed at London Elementary. In the background, London teacher Zach Freer assists Damien Juarez and other youths with assembling the bench that will attach to the little library. Price attends London City Schools. Juarez attends Madison-Plains Schools.

Starting in January, Engage members met every other Tuesday at the woodshop at London High School. Teacher Zach Freer volunteered his time to oversee construction of the two libraries.

“The kids came out of their shells and were all actively participating throughout the process,” Hampton said.

They chose to paint the structures with the school colors of both districts to honor the schools’ friendly rivalry. The library serving Madison-Plains sports a base coat of green, decorated with red and white handprints. The library for London is red with green and white handprints.

“It symbolizes the two schools working together to make a positive difference in the community,” Hampton said of the color scheme.

In addition to Freer, several individuals and entities pitched in to make the project possible. Carter Lumber in Plain City donated lumber. Mike Walker, an independent contractor from Mount Sterling, donated metal for the roofs and attached the roofs. Mount Sterling American Legion Post 417 donated money for materials. The London and Mount Sterling public libraries are donating books to initially stock the libraries.

A little free library is a book exchange where anyone can take a book or leave a book. The London and Mount Sterling libraries are getting the ball rolling with their donated books. Individuals who use the library are encouraged to donate books, too.

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