Eagle Scout project adds to the Little Free Library global community
Kamas resident proud of transit center installation
Owen Alvarez found a way to give bus riders access to free books.
The 15-year-old Kamas resident recently built and installed what’s known as a Little Free Library at the Kimball Junction transit center, 6506 Landmark Drive, for his Eagle Scout project.
This Little Free Library, which is part of a volunteer-led global nonprofit movement that encourages literacy, is composed of six crates that stand about 4 feet high and can hold more than 120 books. People can take and read the books free of charge, and they can return them at any time or donate their own books.
“I think it’s a great program,” Alvarez said. “It helps the community out by getting people to read books that helps their lives get better.”
While thinking about his Eagle Scout project, Alvarez originally wanted to clean up some local hiking and biking trails.
When that idea didn’t pan out, he started looking at some different ideas, and discussed his dilemma with one of his scout leaders, Alex Peterson, a Summit County Library board member.
“He told me about the Little Free Library project, and suggested I do that,” Alvarez said.
There are more than 100,000 Little Free Libraries in more than 100 countries around the world, according to littlefreelibrary.org.
“I never knew what the Little Free Library was, but because of my scout leader, I was able to figure out what it was and thought it would be a great idea,” Alvarez said.
The scout began working on plans three months ago, and came up with a design.
“We decided to make six creates that could hold about 20 books a piece, depending on how big the books are,” Alvarez said. “I figured crates would be an easy way for people to reach in and take out books or put them back.”
The whole project took close to 50 hours to complete, and building the crates alone took about a couple of hours each.
“We had to spray paint the wood and wait for it to dry, and then we had to secure the crates together with screws and nails,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez wanted his Little Free Library to be sturdy, but also compact enough to place inside the transit center.
“We needed to make sure it could fit through the door,” he said.
The idea to set up the project at the transit center came through discussions with the Summit County Library, which oversees branches in Coalville, Kamas and Kimball Junction.
“I met with them, and they suggested the location,” Alvarez said. “So we worked together and got things all sorted out.”
Daniel Compton, Summit County Library director, said installing the Little Free Library in the transit center makes sense.
“I know people will say the Kimball Junction branch is basically just across the street, but a lot of people who are passing through, riding the bus, don’t necessarily have time to visit the library to check out a book,” Compton said. “However, they do have time while they’re on the bus to read something, so we thought this would be an awesome location for them to just pick up a book to take on the bus.”
Also, the Kimball Junction branch is only offering curbside service due to the coronavirus, so having quick access to books is fulfilling a service, according to Compton.
As with the Little Free Library philosophy, readers don’t have to leave a book behind every time they take a book, he said.
“It’s OK, because maybe down the line they or someone else will come back and leave a book,” he said.
In addition to giving commuters quick access to reading material, the Alvarez’s project at the transit center can also raise awareness of the Kimball Junction branch, which is a few yards away, Compton said.
As part of the agreement with Alvarez, the Friends of the Summit County Library, a nonprofit that supports the library, will take stewardship of his Little Free Library.
“Since we’re right across the street, we can keep an eye on it,” Compton said. “If it needs to be stocked, we can donate more books.”
The books are for all ages, he said.
“We have children’s books, books for teens and books for adults,” Compton said. “We are also putting in a big collection of books written in Spanish, and we’ve already seen books in Spanish that have been going out.”
Compton is grateful to Peterson for suggesting the project to Alvarez.
“Alex has been thinking about this idea for a while, and he’s wanted to see more Little Free Libraries in the community,” Compton said. “When he heard Owen was looking for a project, he had him reach out to us. We’re proud of Owen for his hard work to make something for the community that will be helpful for people.”
Alvarez, who will turn 16 in August, said he is proud of his project.
“I worked hard on it, and I think it will help a lot of people gain access to more books,” he said.
For information about the Little Free Library program, visit littlefreelibrary.org.
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