Byers, 17, said her vision was to create a cheerful and organized space to establish a comfortable and enticing space to read. This meant updating the library by painting the walls and organizing the books. Beanbag chairs were bought for a cozy reading corner.
Paint sticks, decorated in a craft session with the girls, serve as a tool to help browsing visitors know where to return each book.
The library was organized by genre and eye level for the appropriate age level; the younger the age, the lower the book would go on the shelf. Every book was stickered and separated by genre with magazine type dividers. An index card was created for each girl which will be used for checking books in and out. Not only did Byers have to figure out a logical and functional way to sort the books, but she also took the time to remove old volumes and ones in bad shape, since many were from the 1950s.
Thanks to the Joyce Maienschein Leadership Grant, she was supported financially for the labels, stickers, beanbag chairs and paint.
Byers said it was important for her to consult with the girls at Girl Inc. so they felt empowered in the decision-making of their community library, which now has more than 2,000 books.
As for the impact of the Gold Award Project, she said, “The girls are using it and seem to enjoy it. [Developing] literacy will hopefully lead to better test results. Every person deserves a good education so they can get a good job. Improving literacy can help.”
Girls Inc., a nonprofit organization aiming to “inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold” serves 150 low-income girls ages 6 to 18. Most come from families making less than $20,000 per year.
The Girl Scouts is the premier leadership organization for girls. Their mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. For more information on becoming a Girl Scout, visit www.girlscoutcsa.org/join, call (800) 474-1912, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.