Little Free library Restoration: Sigma Tau Delta at Work
Under the cover of twilight on the edge of a damp and chilly evening in February, a group of people snuck onto the sidewalk of an unassuming YMCA carrying tools of all shapes. What was their nefarious purpose? Were they vandals? Woodworking Illuminati? The ghosts of community service past, present, and future? While I’m still holding on to my Illuminati theory, it has been confirmed that these people were generous Sigma Tau Delta members working on a service project which will brighten up the community and help young readers.
On February 23, 2018 Sigma Tau Delta members braved the less than ideal weather to begin restoring the Little Free Library: a small library box outside the Macomb YMCA containing children’s books which can be taken and returned by anyone at no charge. The Little Free Library was first put in place by Western’s NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) chapter several years ago, and–although it still stands– it is clear the structure has seen better days. Weather worn sides, a cracked foundation, and a sagging hinge meant that the box could use some love and the English Honors organization answered the call.
The money for this project came in the form of a $350.00 Chapter Project grant from Sigma Tau Delta headquarters: a competitive award meant to encourage chapters to be active in their communities and advance the group’s goals of encouraging the study of English and fostering literacy. This grant went towards buying sandpaper, sealant, and other practical supplies for the restoration of the Little Free Library, as well as books to restock the mostly empty shelves. In the past, the Little Free Library has contained mostly board books for young children; however, since the Macomb area is a poorer community and children of all ages could use the resource, Sigma Tau Delta has provided everything from small picture books to Young Adult novels and classic storybooks. Inside each book a short letter was hidden to be found by the children. The letters will encourage the child to continue reading and allow books to become a positive influence in their life.
After venting pent up frustration through aggressive sanding and scraping, the students sealed the structure with a waterproof coating and filled in the cracked foundation to prevent further weather damage. The project was left to cure, and Sunday the fun work of painting and stocking the new and improved Little Free
Library began. Distance learners and members from the Quad Cities campus joined Macomb members in sprucing up the now plain wood box, coming together to help one community. With a fresh coat of cheerfully bright paint, the little free library was once again covered in quotes and characters from Dr. Seuss, which invite children to go and read. Before long, this staple of the Macomb community will look like new and have a selection of books for everyone to enjoy.Between this service project, marching in the homecoming parade, and holding a bake sale outside of Simpkins hall (Gasp!), this has been a busy year for Sigma Tau Delta. The fun is just beginning as the chapter gears up for the national conference and the spring book drive this semester, which both promise to be exciting events. We may not be a mysterious band of vagabonds sneaking in to do community service under cover of darkness, but we are a fantastic group of people working to improve our community, reach out to students, and provide a home for those with a love of literature.