Molalla Elementary now has a Little Free Library
Barbara Sandgren educated elementary students in Molalla for many years. She passed away in May at the age of 90, but her passion for literacy will live on as her family members have set up a Little Free Library at Molalla Elementary School in her honor.
The idea came from Barbara's granddaughter Anna Sandgren, and many other family members have come alongside to make the project happen with the support of Molalla Elementary Principal Linda Brecht-Kwirant.
"So much is lost when someone passes," Anna said. "My grandmother was a light for learning and we want to continue that light. She traveled, learned and grew through reading. The world outside of Molalla was opened to her with each page she turned…Our family wanted to continue her legacy by installing a library filled with books that stretch the imagination, inspire curiosity and encourage exploration of the world beyond your door."
The library was stocked with books at a dedication event on Wednesday, Aug. 28, attended by the extended Sandgren family, current teachers and retired teachers who were Barbara's peers and friends.
Now the books are available to all at "Barbara Sandgren's Read to Grow Little Library," located at the front the elementary school near the memorial trees.
The instructions are simple. If you see something you'd like to read, take it. When you're finished with a book, pass it along to a friend or return it to the library. If you have your own books that teach or spark conversation, feel free to donate those at the Little Free Library.
"If enough people get involved, the books will be changing over all the time," Anna said.
The library is, for many reasons, a most fitting continuation of Barbara's legacy. Barbara spent countless hours teaching kids to read, Anna said. She even provided home visits, offered resources to families and participated in an outreach program to support kids with learning disabilities.
Even before Barbara, an accomplished teacher and administrator, began teaching officially, she tutored her peers when she was just an eighth-grader. She then went on to obtain both a bachelor's and a master's degree and began her teaching career in 1965 at Butte Creek Elementary.
She later moved to Molalla Grade School, where she worked as a teacher and curriculum coordinator. She received an award for outstanding teacher of the year in 1974.
Barbara moved on to become the first female principal at Molalla Elementary School (then called Molalla Primary School).
"Because of this, she was an advocate for girls' academic success and a champion for women in the workforce," Anna said. "She is remembered by her teaching peers for her ability to recognize each individual's teaching style and deftly mentor their abilities to enhance their classroom performance."
Now, to add to her accolades, Barbara has her own little library.
The family hopes to extend the reach of the library in a number of ways. They plan to add benches and a garden over time. They'll also be looking for creative ways to feature student authors and artists.
If there's enough interest, the family even wants to start an online "Action Book Club" for adults.
But the family's next step is to install a Little Free Library at Butte Creek Elementary, a project that Anna's sister Heidi Sandgren will head up. They hope to add more libraries throughout the Molalla community, each having a steward from the Sandgren family to help maintain them.
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