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West Albany High adds Little Free Libraries

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Students from Jeff Hawkins' Trades class at West Albany High School install one of two Little Free Libraries on the school's campus Thursday afternoon. Pictured clockwise from far right are juniors Jared Hamel, Jacob Land, Matthew Donley and Brayton Haaby.

West Albany High School has joined the Little Free Library movement, installing two little libraries on campus this Thursday.

Readers can find one at both the entrance and exit of the school's visitor parking lot at 1130 Queen Ave. S.W.

Jeff Hawkins' trades classes built the two structures of plywood, crafting them to look like houses, each with their own shingled roofs. Babette Grunwald's art students decorated the libraries.

Both libraries will be stocked by the high school's own library as it circulates through its collection, although it's hoped that readers in the community will offer their own contributions, Grunwald said. 

A third library built by the students is being donated to a local family.

Grunwald said she wanted to do a project with her art students. She often goes running in the Corvallis area and sees several of the Little Libraries there.

"I see them all the time. I just think they're so pretty and so useful," she said.

Hawkins said even though the projects are very small — just a couple feet wide and maybe about the same height — they require students to use many of the same skills they'd practice to build a real house, such as framing and roofing. 

"She (Grunwald) came to me and asked me, and I said, Yeah, let's do it," he said.

Meant to promote literacy and the love of reading, Little Free Libraries first started becoming popular in 2009 and have since spread worldwide. The tiny structures are filled with books and invite passersby to take a tale and leave one in its place.

Organizers of the original Little Free Library project estimate there are now more than 40,000 worldwide.


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