As a part of his Eagle Scout Service project, Steven Gaiko chose to build and distribute three Little Free Libraries in an effort to give back to the community by providing access to free books around Bowling Green.
This project was based on the Little Free Library Organization started in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wis., when he built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard.
The concept behind the free library is for it to be a book exchange among neighbors where they take a book and return later with a replacement. Gaiko constructed boxes and set them in high traffic, lower income areas such as at The Foundry and the Boys and Girls Club.
Gaiko’s Eagle Scout adviser Shawn Rhodes said the service project is a required element in earning the Eagle Scout rank and should be something that is somehow benefits the community.
“The intent of the project is to get them to build leadership skills and collaboration. He worked with the public library and The Foundry to make sure they’re stocked,” Rhodes said. The project is “something of service you’re doing for the community and the church.”
Boys and Girls Club Chief Executive Officer Pam McIntyre said Gaiko sent her an email explaining his service project and asked her to Google the free library and she discovered that it’s in different communities around the nation. She felt it was a great way to encourage reading.
“Leave one, take one,” McIntyre said. “We put it up front right there just so the community, the families we serve and the kids that we serve have access to books at all times.”
Anyone can build a free library and put it on display in their front yard for access to the community. Toby Fatzinger and Amanda Crawford learned of the free library from traveling and decided to put one up outside the FFOYA House studio.
“It’s another outreach effort to the community; we’re both avid readers, we have lots of books and we typically like to share those books,” Fatzinger said. “We believe in sustainability and repurposing. So, that kind of fits in to all that.”
FFOYA house is located on 1035 Kentucky St., across the street from the Warren County Regional Detention Center and Fatzinger said that one of their concerns is issues of mass incarceration.
“We do see people turn out from the jail, in the winter time, sometimes without coats and they’re sitting here waiting for rides or they’re up and down the street and they are able to grab a book and flip through it and hang out for a minute,” Fatzinger said. “They’re incredibly respectful.”
— For more information on Little Free Libraries, go to littlefreelibrary.org.