Writer / Brenda Geren
People using the trails near Westfield’s Countryside neighborhood may have noticed a new amenity. Five custom-painted Little Free Library locations have been installed courtesy of Cub Scout Pack 129, a group of approximately 150 scouts ranging in school age from kindergarten to fifth grade. x
Over the past seven years, Pack Leader Glenn King and Assistant Leader Kellie King have guided scouts in completing multiple community service projects. The Little Free Library project is the most expensive, long-term and multiphased project Pack 129 has undertaken.
The first step required the Webelos, the eldest group of Cub Scouts, to present plans and gain the approval of the Countryside homeowners association board to install the libraries along the trails. “These kids were just amazing,” Kellie says of the scouts’ presentation. “I was so impressed by this group of fourth-graders to stand in front of a room full of adults and make their presentations. They were confident and did such a great job.”
The homeowners association approved their proposal, and construction of the libraries began in earnest in early fall.
The older scouts learned how to use handsaws and hammers, and built out the pre-drilled library structures furnished by Glenn. During the next phase, all of the scouts were called upon to design and paint the libraries.
“Each scout was given an individual panel of the library and asked to paint something about their favorite book,” Kellie says. “Some painted the book title. Others painted characters, scenes or quotes. Their panels were then attached to the library structure, along with other panels painted with Cub Scout mottos like kindness, courtesy and loyalty, to reinforce the concepts kids learn in scouting.”
On a Saturday in late October, the scouts dug holes and installed the completed libraries in their permanent locations. The scouts will continue to check, repair and maintain the libraries every six months for the next five years, per their long-term agreement with the Countryside homeowners association.
The Kings are excited about this project and very proud of Pack 129. “It was so heartwarming to watch the kids finally put the books in the libraries,” Kellie says. “They were just so very proud of what they had accomplished. Reading is so important for kids, in a sense that no matter where you are in your life, reading can take you someplace different. Our scouts are a part of something that will continue to educate others in their community for years to come. They have made a huge impact, even at such a young age.”
The five Little Free Library locations can be found on the trails between Oak Trace Elementary School, Armstrong Park and Countryside’s clubhouse. The public is welcome to add books to the library inventory, for both children and adults, at any time.