People visiting Luck Field in Mineral will find something new there – a little free library full of books for people to take, read and return at their leisure.
“All of my brothers play baseball so I pretty much grew up at the field and I saw a lot of kids not having books to read,” said Elizabeth Bradford, a recent Louisa County High School graduate who built and installed the library. “I knew a lot of families spent a lot of time there, especially in the summer.”
The Little Free Library organization was founded in 2009 and has since installed more than 100,000 libraries in some 100 countries. People who come across them are encouraged to take books from inside to read and either return them or replace them with books of their own. The goal is to encourage reading and sharing of books, especially among children.
“I want to foster a love of reading, especially with younger kids,” Bradford said. “I know that getting to read books that I actually want to read has been beneficial in my educational career.”
Bradford is an advocate for literacy through the Miss Virginia’s Outstanding Teens program, working to combat illiteracy rates in the U.S. Studies have linked poor reading skills to increased rates of incarceration and poverty. Bradford can relate to the issue, because she and her siblings had their own challenges as they learned to read.
“Learning how to read hasn’t always been easy for all of us,” she said. “It’s something I experienced first-hand and I know how challenging it can be.”
The Little Free Library project is also Bradford’s project for her Gold Award with the Girl Scouts of the USA, the organization’s highest honor. Gold Award recipents must complete 80 hours of an approved community service project to achieve the award. Bradford has completed 70 hours so far.
Bradford built the library with help from her grandfather, who let her use some of the excess building materials in his workshop. Building the library took her 10 hours of work, plus an additional two for painting.
“I’m not the best painter, so it took a bit longer than it should have,” she admitted.
She installed the library at Luck Field on June 8, again with help from her grandfather.
“It’s nice to see everything come together and be a finished project,” she said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Bradford plans to build and install more little free libraries around Louisa County, one at Trevilians Elementary School and one in the Locust Creek area. She also plans to put one in Gordonsville.
Bradford said she is going to take several lessons away from the project, but the biggest is how it feels to give back to the community.
“It feels great to give back to a county that has already given so much [to me],” she said. “It’s really rewarding.”