When the idea to build a Little Free Library was presented to Girl Scout Troop #43636 in Puyallup last year, it was a hit.
The troop had 13 members at the time, and most of them knew what Little Free Libraries were. There are some around Puyallup, mostly outside of residences.
But the girls wanted to make one of their own, and in a public space.
“I thought it was a great idea ‘cause it was something we could put it in the community and everybody could see it and appreciate it,” said Girl Scout Madelyn Mann.
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I thought it was a great idea ‘cause it was something we could put it in the community and everybody could see it and appreciate it.
Madelyn Mann, Girl Scout
A Little Free Library is a free book exchange that typically takes place out of a decorated wooden box outside. Anyone is free to take a book as long as they bring a book to replace it.
The Girl Scouts organization partners with Little Free Library, a nonprofit organization that “inspires reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.”
When troop leader Crystal Mann presented the idea to the girls, they all put their heads together to brainstorm ideas. The troop consists of girls ranging in ages, 8 to 13. They chose Wildwood Park as their location, and worked with the city of Puyallup for approval.
A father of one of the Girl Scouts built the library’s basic structure, but after that it was up to the Girl Scouts to design it. Each girl got to see their idea come to life in some way.
“At the meeting we were presenting different ideas and we sort of combined all the ideas together,” said Girl Scout Kavindra Shah, 13. “So on one side we decided to (paint) cookies and the other side we decided to do a forest.”
“Because we put it in the park,” added 8-year-old Leela Shah, Kavindra’s sister.
The scouts also painted their code names on each cookie.
“I think that it’s really cool that we all got to put something into it that we thought was special so it means a little bit of something special to each of us,” said Girl Scout Izzy Tague, 13.
I think that it’s really cool that we all got to put something into it that we thought was special so it means a little bit of something special to each of us.
Izzy Tague, Girl Scout
In all, it took the troop nine months to complete the library. The troop opened the mini-library with a ribbon cutting and food drive on Jan. 6. People also stopped by to drop off books.
Girl Scout Izzy Tague wants people of all ages to be able to find a book in their Little Free Library in Wildwood Park.
“We go camping in this one area up in Port Townsend and there’s a Little Free Library there and it’s really cool except there are no books for our age. So I thought it was a cool idea that we could have books for our age,” she said.
The troop hopes that the community will take care of the library and help prevent any vandalism. Community members are encouraged to post updates on the library’s Facebook and Instagram pages, “Little Free Library #59690.”
“We’d love to see people become stewards alongside of us,” Crystal said. “It’d be great if people would say, ‘I will commit to keeping an eye on the library with you.’ It kind of takes the pressure off of us to come by as often. We’d like to not just hand it over to the community, but sort of feel their involvement with us.”
We’d love to see people become stewards alongside of us. It’d be great if people would say, ‘I will commit to keeping an eye on the library with you.’ It kind of takes the pressure off of us to come by as often. We’d like to not just hand it over to the community, but sort of feel their involvement with us.
Crystal Mann, Girl Scout troop leader
Already, the Puyallup Rocks Facebook Group keeps tabs on the library by leaving rocks at its base.
And if there are people out there without access to books, hopefully the library can be a helpful service, added Tague.
“Some people who might not have access to a book on a normal occasion might be able to come and pick one up and then return it later or substitute another one in that they’ve already read. It’s a cool opportunity for people, I think,” she said.
Now, the troop is working on their next project — a “Kind Camp” to remind younger Girl Scouts to “be kind to themselves, others and the Earth.”
Troop co-leaders said they’re proud of the initiative the girls took on the library project.
“This is the first project that they agreed to do and they planned ... so it was really led by them and we supported it and it’s the biggest project that they’ve done. So it was a nice transition for them to contribute to the community. I think that’s something they should be the most proud about,” troop co-leader Heather Schilling said.
The Little Free Library is located across the street from the caretakers house at Wildwood Park, 1101 23rd Avenue SE., Puyallup.