Not every teenager is interested in shouldering extra responsibility in the summertime. Marlow Sherrill doesn’t appear to mind.
The 16-year-old has taken it upon herself to construct and maintain a free library on the side of the East Wake Education Foundation building in downtown Wendell. But hers is different than the local community library, with its rows of books and designated computer tables.
Sherrill’s drop-box creation is closer to a dollhouse in size. The space, registered with the Little Free Library organization, allows anyone in the community to take or share a book whenever they please. It’s the only one of its kind in eastern Wake County.
Sherrill wants the little library to encourage locals to take a look inside the books it shelters.
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“I’m really hoping this Little Free Library will inspire the kids and others to find a love in books and reading. It may also inspire someone else to build another Little Free Library so that the variety of books can expand and it reaches more people,” Sherrill said.
Naturally, the rising Enloe High School junior became interested in the book depots after reading about them. She initially pitched the idea as a Girl Scout project, but it didn’t satisfy the requirement of being truly unique since other little libraries have popped up across the Triangle over the past year.
Sherrill decided to proceed anyway with doing something novel enough to the region. She and her father, Tim Sherrill, began constructing the case in the spring and concluded with installation on June 27. They even gave it a Wendell look, modeling it after the historic post office just down the street.
As the executive director of a group that provides educational services for preschool children and their families, Linda Johnson was more than glad to offer a space for the little library outside the education foundation’s front door.
“This is a trend that seems to be taking place across the country,” Johnson said of the Little Free Library. “Not only will this further the foundation, but it will stress the importance of reading itself. It might be another way for the children to get excited about the books and to get them reading.”
Sherrill’s determination on the project impressed Johnson.
“Her values are so solid,” Johnson said. “You can tell just by interaction within the family that they care about giving back to the community. I can tell that in everything that child says.”
Angie Sherrill said she and her husband wanted to get Marlow involved in a service project that she found interesting rather than one she felt pressured into doing. She said it would have been hard years ago to predict the project her daughter chose.
“It’s fun for me to see her trying to get little children interested in reading because she wasn’t very interested in reading when she was younger,” Angie Sherrill said. “It almost makes me wish we had one of these (little libraries) when she was growing up.
“She just thought they were really cool and this was something you could really tell she was excited about. It was really fun to see her getting passionate about it all by herself.”
Marlow Sherrill says she plans to keep an eye on the library about once a week or so to make sure it is stocked with appropriate books. She can add to the supply from her own book collection if the number of titles gets too low, but she hopes residents will give enough of their own books to keep the small shelves stocked well.
Sherill, who knows college and other obligations will soon be coming her way, also says she hopes the community will embrace the project and that, with time, it will be maintained by users who all take a personal interest in the effort.