CVTC students help expand Little Free Libraries
RIVER FALLS — More Little Free Libraries are popping up around the St. Croix Valley, with Chippewa Valley Technical College students working with area nonprofit organizations to find new locations.
CVTC communication instructor Karen Jubie involved her students by picking up the ball from a project her husband was involved in. As general manager of Luther Hudson Chevrolet, Tim Jubie worked to establish a Little Free Library in every municipality in St. Croix County back in 2015.
"I wanted to do something unique with the Residential Construction students as a group in my Oral/Interpersonal Communication class," said Karen Jubie. "I decided to do a small-scale project based on what Tim did. What started out as just a one-class project morphed into all three of my classes at the River Falls campus getting involved."
Little Free Libraries was started by Todd Bol of Hudson and the libraries have now spread around the world. The Free Libraries are small, simple structures, usually on a post, where people are invited to "take a book, leave a book."
Karen Jubie's idea was to have groups of students build Little Free Libraries to be donated to nonprofit organizations around the area, with students learning how to work together in a small group and with people in the community in the process.
"Todd Bol kicked off our project by coming to an Oral/Interpersonal Communication class to talk about the nonprofit organization and how it started," Karen Jubie said. "He was truly inspiring."
A donation from Luther Hudson Chevrolet allowed Karen Jubie to purchase five Little Free Library kits. Residential Construction students in one of the three classes taking part in the project made one library from "scratch."
Jubie had the students work together in groups to decide where to donate their completed library, how to paint or decorate it, and how to stock it with books. They also had to research the non-profit organization they chose and make an oral report to the class.
"There are two course competencies involved in this project: contribute as a group or team member and deliver an oral presentation," Karen Jubie said.
Recipients of the libraries are Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Have a Heart, Sexual Assault Response Team, Our Neighbor's Place, and Positive Alternatives.
"We were honored to be chosen for the project," said Sarah Rose, community outreach director for Habitat for Humanity, which will install their library at the We Build Center at 109 W. Cedar St. in River Falls. "We like working with the community and working with students. Community outreach is very important, and I'm a big believer in books and reading."
Emily Hardy of Big Brothers Big Sisters said their library will be placed in the front yard of their office at 82 Coulee Road in Hudson.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to work with CVTC," Hardy said. "College students make up a large percentage of our volunteers in this area."
"We have a lot next door to our place at 2860 Williams Ave.," said Andrea Alpmann, program coordinator at Positive Alternatives. "We will put our library on the edge of that lot. This is a cool opportunity for our community to become more aware of us. Hopefully, it will bring a few more people down our way."
"I liked this project," said student Dave Hennessey of River Falls. "I saw Little Free Libraries around the area but didn't know much about it until the founder came in to talk to us. It's always nice to give something back, and we learned more about group communication."
"It was very fun and was very inspiring to help others and to learn ways to bring communities together," said student McKayla Tape of Ellsworth.
Tape added that the most challenging part was researching the non-profit organization for the report. "You want to represent the organization properly," she said.
Guy Hudson, a River Falls student in the Residential Construction program, said making their library from scratch, without a kit, wasn't very difficult for students who have been busy building a house this year. "And we learned how to work as a group in our program. We really thrive in this kind of group project," he said.
"It was frustrating at times," said Samantha Moe, a student from Hudson. "Not all of the pieces fit together right."
"But it was fun," added Molly Richardson of Hudson, who worked in the same group. "It gave us something to laugh about."