Carine Aurelio, School Librarian at Lawrence Academy, Groton
Lawrence Academy is an independent day and boarding high school with an international and diverse community. https://www.lacademy.edu/academics/mcdonald-library
Little Free Library:
Building community, inspiring readers, and sparking creativity
The Little Free Library (LFL) program is a worldwide system of over 150,000 registered public book boxes with the goal of providing free access to book collections and fostering community engagement through book exchanges. At Lawrence Academy, the idea of having an exchange box was sparked in 2020. COVID, delayed the project until late 2020 and it finally launched in May of 2021.
The student members of The Library Squad Club excitedly accepted an invitation from the school Headmaster's wife to begin work on the project. With the advice of School Librarian Ms. Aurelio and assisted by the building skills of our arts faculty, the student club was fully supported to conceive the project, embrace the program, and engage the community.
The Lawrence Academy Little Free Library is the first officially registered program in Groton.
There were three main challenges: to obtain a wooden box, to have an initial collection, and to determine the installation location. The adults considered these questions and then shared the options with the students to make final decisions. Following the LFL organization goals of “building community, inspiring readers, and sparking creativity” the Library Squad embraced the challenges of building their own box, asking for donations, and finding a place with high visibility and access.
The club involved volunteer students in the Woodshop Class who designed and built the wooden box, modeled after the school library building. The club members then painted it, collected book donations, and spread the word about the book sharing box around the campus and town. The Little Free Library now stands by the traffic circle in front of a student dorm on a high-traffic area of campus, where its bright colors and stacks of books are sure to catch the attention of any passerby.
Creative opportunities arose with the installation of the exchange box. Club members wrote articles for the school magazine and website. Comments on social media showed alumni interest in revisiting the campus to see it in person, and prospective families mentioned the Little Free Library to our student tour guides and admissions staff.
The Lawrence Academy Library Squad is not finished. The club is working on another little box to donate to an organization that our school supports through our community services program. They are embracing the use of the Little Free Library organization’s app that shows all book donation box locations on a map. There is much joy when a student shares a new book or a picture taken at a Little Free Library they visited around their town or when vacationing.
Carine encourages others to engage in this adventure. Look for support and ideas within your community or on the Little Free Library website. Consider adding this wonderful resource to your community; you will be surprised by the stories that this small treasure will start.
Little Free Library: Ideas and resources
Insider’s Guide to starting your own Little Free Library.
Page for library builders.