Meridian Star

December 28, 2013

Eagle project places libraries around Meridian

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —      William Johnson, a By Scout with Troop 70 of North Park Church located on Highway 19 North in Meridian, chose for his Eagle Scout Project a service that will keep on giving and giving in the form of books. Johnson chose to install four Little Free Library locations around the city so that people who were waiting on a train or bus, or who were enjoying a nice day at a park, could read a book if they so wanted.

    "I saw this in a newspaper and I thought it was a great idea," said Johnson, an eighth grade student at Lamar School. "The more I read about it the more excited I got."

    In 2009 a Wisconsin man built a little schoolhouse in honor of his mother, a longtime teacher. The man filled the little box with books for anyone to read. In 2010 the idea began to take root and now there are an estimated 10,000 such Little Free Library boxes all across the world promoting reading. There are seven such libraries in Mississippi, four of them in Meridian.

    Johnson took his project idea to a November meeting of the Meridian City Council. Johnson figured he would need about $650 worth of materials. In the following weeks Johnson received support from such local businesses such as Lowe's, Johnson Mobile Homes, Benjamin Moore paints, and the Broadmoor Home Center.

    Johnson constructed the little libraries out of plywood with plexiglass windows and shingled roofs. The city of Meridian helped Johnson place the five foot poles on which the libraries would be situated. The locations of the libraries are at Dumont Plaza, Union Station, the Bonita Lakes Recreation Park playground, and at Planet Playground on North Hills Street. Each location has books donated by Lamar School and other organizations throughout Meridian.

    The premise is that anyone can take a book and read it. After finishing the book they can either bring it back or replace it with another book.

    "It is called take a book, read a book," Johnson said. "It is a really neat idea and I believe it will get a child interested in reading."

    Johnson said each library location will have a steward who will keep track of how many books are at the library. If the library starts to get low on books, Johnson will fill it back up with other volumes.