Little Free Library Opens at Fisher Elementary

Fisher students celebrated the official opening of the school’s Little Free Library in the campus reading garden, located at 2500 Old Orchard Drive, on Thursday, April 2 and students began borrowing books to take home to read.

The Little Free Library, a colorful wooden structure on a post, is a site for students, teachers and members of the community to “borrow” free books at any time. The idea is “take one, leave one,” explained the six fifth-grade girls who raised funds and oversaw the installation of the library as part of their Destination ImagiNation project.

Little Free Libraries are a growing phenomenon across the nation. Sometimes they are in residential areas, sometimes parks, schools or churches. The first one was built by a man in Wisconsin in honor of his mother who was a school teacher. He put it in his front yard. The idea grew from there.

“My aunt lives in Seattle and she has about four near her neighborhood,” said Ava Valdes, who first proposed the idea to her DI team. “I thought it would be a good idea to have one here.”

Ava’s fellow team members Lily Cowan, Claire Sircely, Ella Steubing, Kate Steubing, and Ella White agreed. The six girls have known each other since kindergarten. They say they are happy they will have left a legacy at Fisher when they move on to sixth grade. Their names are on the back of the library as a reminder to future Fisher students.

The girls had to raise money to purchase the library. The movement of the Little Free Library has grown to the point that interested groups may purchase plans or building kits to start their own project. The girls chose to buy a kit instead of building from scratch.

The team worked with Morgan Stanley employees to raise the funds. Employees of Morgan Stanley were allowed to donate $5 for jeans passes. The project earned $800 during the time period allowed by the company. The project itself with the kit, installation and hiring a professional to paint the colorful library cost a little over $500. The team chose to donate the extra money back to the next charity that Morgan Stanley chose to support.

The team members held a book drive to get books to start the library off. They each donated a favorite book of their own. The Fisher faculty and staff supported the project with announcements and promotions during school assemblies.

The Little Free Library is not just for Fisher students – it is for the entire neighborhood. “Adults can use it too,” said Lily Cowan.

At opening, the library contained a book about Laura Bush and a book by Suze Orman, in addition to several children’s books. The guidelines of the Little Free Library are posted on the inside door so that anyone can see how to participate in the program.

The goal of the Little Free Library movement is to promote literacy and free book exchanges worldwide, while building a sense of community. The hope is to build 2,510 little free libraries, following in the example of Andrew Carnegie, and to keep going from there.

Ava Valdez is taking that mission to heart. She and her family are moving to Austin. She is already planning to get a Little Free Library going at the school in her new neighborhood.

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