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Nettle Creek communities getting Little Libraries

Students from the Hagerstown Jr./Sr. High Schoolwelding and small engines classes refurbished former newspaper kiosks and installed them throughout the community as part of the area’s “Every Child Can Read” program.

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

Teens and teachers from Nettle Creek schools are working together to make it easier for families in the area to take part in the joy of reading.

Students in Nathan Williamson’s welding and small engines classes at Hagerstown Jr./Sr. High School have refurbished former newspaper kiosks into “Little Libraries” – painted Tiger Purple, of course – and installed them throughout the Nettle Creek School Corporation.

The Nettle Creek family of schools in Hagerstown reaches into eastern Henry County and provideseducation and after-school care for many families in Millville and Liberty Township. The school district also extends into Jacksonburg, Greens Fork and Economy in western Wayne County.

The initiative is part of Every Child Can Read, Inc., out of Richmond. Every Child Can Read provided used newspaper kiosks for community partners to turn into Little Libraries.

Every Child Can Read reached out to Nettle Creek’s K-12 librarian Mandi Isaacs about hosting a Little Free Library at one of the Hagerstown schools.

“After considering the opportunity, I thought it would be more beneficial for our students in the outlying communities that we serve to have access to the Little Free Libraries,” Isaacs said. “Our students in Hagerstown have access to the public library and the school library; those in the communities we serve do not have that access.”

Isaacs said a local sponsor in each community paid for the costs of each kiosk.

The library in Millville is sponsored by Falmouth Farm Supply. Greens Fork is sponsored by the Greens Fork Community Center, and Economy is sponsored by Economy United Methodist Church. Dougherty Orchards sponsors the Little Library in Jacksonburg.

The Tiger Libraries (Nettle Creek School Corporation’s libraries) purchased the decals, and Williamson’s classes refurbished and painted the kiosks.

“The initial books were provided by Every Child Can Read in Richmond as part of the cost to purchase a kiosk,” Isaacs said. “Additional books were donated by the Friends of the Hagerstown/Jefferson Township Public Library after their spring book sale. Now, the libraries are self-sustaining with the concept of Take a Book, Leave a Book.”

Isaacs would like to eventually add a Tiger Purple Little Library kiosk in Hagerstown, possibly outside of the elementary, to expand the opportunity to students who live in town, as well.

The intent of the Little Free Libraries is to make sure that books are available to students within in their own smaller community any time that they want access to a book.

“The extra benefit is that these kiosks are housing books for all ages, so everyone has access to a reading option,” Isaacs said. “The hope is that this will spur an interest in reading and promote a discussion among readers within our communities.”

Nettle Creek Superintendent Dr. William Doering emphasized in this month’s school newsletter that parents can support their children’s education by celebrating reading at home.

“Along with spending quality time together, reading to your child becomes a special time that shows reading is important. When a child learns to read well, the future looks bright,” Doering said.

The Little Libraries that are now available throughout the Nettle Creek community will make it easier for families to have access to books, making it even easier to bring reading into the home.

“These Little Libraries support the partnership between our community and our schools in our shared goal to provide for our children,” Doering said.

Little Libraries have also appeared in other communities around Henry County.

Beautify Knightstown Inc. installed two Little Free Libraries in town in 2017. New Castle’s Holy Trinity Lutheran Church opened their first Little Library in March. 

And last September, the Little Blessings ministry at Turning Point Life Center in New Castle was granted permission from the New Castle Parks Board to install Little Blessing Reading Areas in city parks.