Scouts install free library box at Columbia City dog park
Columbia City readers got an assist from Troop 106 this month, when Scouts installed a Little Free Library at the Columbia City Dog Park.
Kay Brown, president of Friends of the Columbia City Community Library, built the wood library box and asked the Scouts to install it.
The Port of Columbia County offered up space outside the dog park, which it owns, to install the library.
"We're very community-based," Brown said. "The Boy Scouts have offered to help us, and we've got the Port of Columbia County that has donated the land, and most of the books have been donated by citizens."
Brown said she hadn't made a Little Free Library before, but she has made other things.
"I enjoy woodworking, so it was a fun project for me," Brown said.
Bill Lain, the troop leader, said that this was the troop's first library box installation.
"We do service projects throughout the year when we find them or when people reach out. We've done cleanups at different parks and things like that," Lain said.
Troop 106 is mostly made up of kids from St. Helens, but it also includes Columbia City and has some members from the Scappoose area.
There's a boys troop and a girls troop of Scouts BSA — which stands for Boy Scouts of America, although the national organization stopped spelling it out when Scouts started allowing girls to join in 2019.
Though the troops are technically separate, the 16 total kids do lots of activities together, Lain said. Many of the Scouts have busy schedules with sports or other activities, so they often have around half show up to events like the library box installation.
After a lengthy dig, pulling out rocks to get the library box stand deep enough to stay steady, the installation came together quickly. Scouts leveled and stabilized the wood post before drilling on the already-constructed box and filling it with books gathered by Brown.
Keston Nelson, a 12-year-old Scout, said he hadn't done any building work with the troop before, but he had some woodworking experience and was enjoying the troop project.
"I just build tables and stuff with my grandpa," Nelson said. His favorite part of being in scouts was the campouts, which happen nearly monthly, he said.
At 14, Ethan Rhodes has been in Scouts for five or six years, he said.
"We have planted a lot of trees and stuff down at the St. Helens parks," but the troop hasn't don't an installation like this before, Rhodes said.
"I'm having a lot of fun," Rhodes said after helping carry the library box from Brown's car and positioning it on the post.
Like Nelson, Rhodes said camping was his favorite part of Scouting. He also enjoys "learning how to do stuff, like first aid or how to use a knife." This summer, he earned the merit badge he's most proud of, for bird study.
The library box was quickly filled with books as dog park visitors passed by. The Little Free Library will supplement the Columbia City Community Library — which is, like other public libraries, free for users. The Community Library is all volunteer-run and is only open 10 a.m to 2 p.m. Monday, 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
"Our library hours have been so shortened because of COVID. It makes it hard for people to get to the library," Brown said. "We're hoping that if this is successful, that we'll be able to put them out in (areas) that are easier for more people to access."
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