Scouts unveil Little Free Library

Cadette Girl Scouts Breanna Smith, left, Theresa Allen, Lani Friedman, Lacy Huckelby, Olivia Andrews. MacKenzie Poore, not pictured, also helped with the Silver Award Project completed by Troop 347.


JASPER — Olivia Andrews, 14, felt proud Sunday afternoon as she watched kids select books from a new Little Free Library box at Jaycee Park in Jasper.

Andrews and her Cadette Girl Scout Troop 357 at Jasper Middle School constructed the Little Free Library for their Silver Award project. The Silver Award is the second highest honor for Girl Scout troops.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit program out of Hudson, Wisconsin, that encourages people to build mailbox-like structures that are filled with books and sit in communities.

The idea is simple: The builders stock the box with books, then people can stop by and take a book for free, as long as they leave one to replace the one they took. The girls in Troop 357 heard about the program in other places and thought the idea could benefit Jasper. They unveiled their Little Free Library Sunday evening, and kids immediately started using it.

“It was really cool seeing the little kid come and pick [books] out,” Olivia said.

She and her fellow scouts — Breanna Smith, Theresa Allen, Lani Friedman, Lacy Huckelby and MacKenzie Poore — started working on the project a year ago.

The scouts applied for and received a grant from the Dubois County Community Foundation for half of the cost of the project. The scouts earned the remaining funds through hosting events for local Girl Scouts and scooping ice cream at their booth during the Dubois County 4-H Fair.

To create the book stop, they had to design and build the box, collect books to stock it and work with the Jasper Park Board to select a location. The teamwork proved difficult, Olivia said.

“It was just hard to figure out the best way to make decisions,” she said.

Ultimately, the girls decided to model their box after the Alexander Schoolhouse, a one-room schoolhouse that stood in Ireland until the Redevelop Old Jasper Action Coalition moved it to the Schaeffer Barn and Riverwalk area in 2017.

First, with the help of Dave Hollinden, the Girl Scouts drew plans for the box, then they built cardboard models before finally building the wooden structure. They also held book drives and fundraisers to get all the materials necessary. Now, Olivia said, each of the scouts has a tote full of books so they can keep the Little Free Library stocked.

The Girl Scouts’ Little Free Library is the third in Dubois County and is located at the main entrance to the Jaycee Park, 1411 Bartley St., Jasper. The Dubois County Solid Waste Management District maintains one at their office — 1103 S. 350 W., Jasper — that they stock with books people recycle, and they carry it with them to festivals as well.

Andrea Brown’s fourth-grade class at Holland Elementary also put together a Little Free Library at 408 N Meridian Rd., Holland.

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