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Hylton High and Beville Middle students build and place ‘Little Free Libraries’ in the community

Students in the cabinet-making class at Hylton High School and students in an after-school program at Beville Middle School have been working with Prince William County Public Schools to build Little Free Libraries for use in or near schools. Little Free Libraries are small cabinets filled with free books that are placed in public areas in communities in more than 80 countries.

“The idea is, if you take a book from the library, place one in there to replace it. Take a book, leave a book,” said Schenell Agee, supervisor for the Office of Library Media Programs and Research.

Agee said she saw a Little Free Library on display during a book festival in Washington, D.C., and was so excited about the program that she carried one of the library cabinets onto the Metro to bring back to PWCS. She showed the library cabinet to Doug Wright, supervisor for the Office of Career and Technical Education, who suggested the involvement of CTE students to build the library cabinets.

Last year, Thomas Ehman, technology education teacher at Hylton High School, worked with students in his new cabinet-making class to build 20 libraries for use in or near PWCS schools. This year, students will construct 10 new models.

Ehman said his students really enjoyed participating in the Little Free Library project. “Once the students started building them and fully understood the purpose of the project, they developed a sense of pride in their work and really tried to do their best,” Ehman said.

John Dolan, Project Lead the Way teacher at Beville Middle School, invited his students to stay after school and build libraries from kits. They are building 10 libraries.

“We are happy to be completing these libraries,” Dolan said. “As an IB (International Baccalaureate) school, this is a great way to do something for our community.”

“It is really fun putting the libraries together,” said Coy Gibson, eighth grade student.

“I think it is cool that we are doing something to help our communities,” said Caleb Dolan, seventh grade student.

Graham Park Middle School has incorporated more collaboration. Mrs. Laura Schubert, CTE teacher, and Monica Abrams, librarian, are working to install a Little Free Library at Ginn Memorial Park in Dumfries.  In November, they walked to the park to meet government officials, met Miss Utility (to ensure they placed the library somewhere that did not conflict with utilities) and worked with their technology specialist to help students use augmented reality to decide on the best place for the library to be posted.  Students took their findings back to their workshop and began designing the structural post for the little library.

Last year, SPARK, the education foundation for PWCS, funded the project to build the initial 20 Little Free Libraries.  Agee said this year, the Prince William County SPCA supported this worthy cause through a $3,000 grant to help pay for the materials. The SPCA has also offered to help supply books.

To date, Little Free Libraries are now available at these schools:

Bel Air Elementary School
Belmont Elementary School
Dale City Elementary School
Dumfries Elementary School
Enterprise Elementary School
Featherstone Elementary School
Fitzgerald Elementary School
Freedom High School
Graham Park Middle School
Kerrydale Elementary School
Kilby Elementary School
Leesylvania Elementary School
Williams Elementary School
Marumsco Hills Elementary School
Minnieville Elementary School
Neabsco Elementary School
Occoquan Elementary School
Potomac View Elementary School
River Oaks Elementary School
Sudley Elementary School
Swans Creek Elementary School
Triangle Elementary School
Vaughan Elementary School
Yorkshire Elementary School

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