Renaissance students hope to share love of reading through a new, tiny library
CASTLE ROCK – Just a short walk from Renaissance Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound School stands a small wooden structure. While, at first, it may be mistaken as a birdhouse, the students who helped to erect this Little Free Library in Metzler Park hope their project will bring a love of reading to their town.
“It’s really nice, because there are no due dates for the books,” explained one student. “There are no renewals. There is no time that you have to have it in. I think it’s nice for people who can’t make it to the real library. They can have the book as long as they want.”
Last week fifth and sixth-grade students showed local reporters how the tiny library works.
“You open it like this and either take a book or leave a book,” one student demonstrated, opening up the plexiglass and wood door to slide in a gently used book.
Several other students followed her lead and in a couple moments the small library was ready for readers of all ages.
“I love little kids, so I imagine little kids saying, ‘Mommy, can I have this book?’ said one of the girls from Renaissance.
In the future, the students say you’ll likely find their work alongside other authors.
“It’s a really good way to share your writing. I, myself, have been writing a good story. I was thinking that one day I would print it out and bring it here. That way, others can read it and enjoy it,” a boy said.
Little Free Library is a worldwide program in locations where people may not have easy access to the public library.
Renaissance librarian Diana Hyland read about the program and brought the idea to the students in Michelle Oslick's 5th and 6th grade class.
“I knew that this class would be engaged and capable of managing it. We let them pretty much take the lead,” Hyland explained. “It is totally authentic learning.
I introduced the concept to them and they decided what needed to be done to make it happen. They wrote the letters, they formed committees.”
The students wanted to place the library in Metzler Park, near the playground, because a lot of families use this park for sporting events and family time to play or walk pets.
The location’s proximity to the school also would allow students to easily restock the library and maintain the structure.
“Maybe someone who is nervous to pick up a book or has some fear about reading can come up here and feel comfortable to take it out, sit at the park and share a book,” explained Hyland. “[They could] talk with their neighbors. It’s just a good way to connect with people and get folks turned on to reading.”
Before this idea became a reality, the plan had to be approved by Castle Rock’s Parks and Recreation department. While the students were a bit nervous, they arranged to present their idea to the adults.
“It was kind of hard because you didn’t know if they would say yes or no,” a student said.
The town, however, took quick action, approving the library and even helping to install it.
“They were very, very generous,” one of the students said.
This week, the students are presenting the project to the rest of their school to encourage other students to join the effort by bringing in books and restocking the library. Depending on the reaction, the students are considering adding another location, perhaps in downtown Castle Rock.