Old newspaper rack transformed into library

Published 9:01 am Thursday, May 12, 2016

When Will Cheek approached Alicia Holman, the principal of Ellis Middle School about possible projects he could complete as his Eagle Scout project, it was definitely fate.

It just so happened that Karen Martin, the librarian at Ellis, had recently approached Holman about the need for a free lending library on campus that would be available 24 hours a day.

Holman directed Will to meet with Martin, and it was a “match made in Heaven” so to speak.

Martin had a list of specific requirements for such a lending library, including that the actual physical repository must be created from cast off materials of some sort.

The library had to also meet the specification of “Little Free Libraries,” an organization with a directory of libraries with free materials throughout the nation.  The overall requirements and expectations proved to be meticulous, but Cheek rose to the challenge placed before him.

He began his project by experimenting with several redesigns for recycled materials and eventually decided upon refurbishing and reengineering an old newspaper rack from the Davie County Enterprise Record.

This was only the beginning of the process, for Cheek still had to find a way to make the rack attractive and develop a plan for keeping it stoked with books for the patrons.

Will worked closely with the guidelines and  expectations of Little Free Library and created a plan of action to stock the shelves and maintain the collection even after the initial books.

He decided to do a two-part book drive which proved to be a success.  He sent flyers with the middle school students about the opportunity to donate gently used books, and he placed a container during the Ellis bookfair so shoppers could buy and donate new books to the cause.

More than 150 books were donated, and this opened a line of communication for continued donations to find their way to the Ellis Little Free Library.

The last steps were to install and register the library. Both proved to be intense ventures, with a little reengineering needed for the security of the physical library space, and fairly extensive paperwork for being granted a Little Free Library permit.

“The end product was phenomenal and has received rave reviews from the local patrons and extended public,” Martin said. “Most young men would have realized the enormity of my vision and run for the hills.  Will, however not only met but exceeded my expectations. We now have a 24 hour library that meets a need for our community and a really impressive Little Free Library as yet another reason for people to visit Davie County. I could not have done this without Will’s determination and drive.”