A walk on the Boise Greenbelt in the spring of 2017 changed the course of Hailey Russell’s senior project.
“I was leaning toward planting trees, but when I saw this little library on a walk with my sister, I knew it was something I wanted to do,” says Hailey, 19, who graduated from Grangeville High School in May 2018.
In September 2017, Hailey’s own Little Free Library was placed on the wall of Irwin Drug, facing Heritage Square and Main Street in Grangeville, Idaho.
Lenora Akin of Lenora’s Custom Cabinets was a mentor through the project, as well as Hailey’s family.
“I cannot thank Lenora enough for all she did with cutting, and piecing and building,” Hailey says. “And for letting me use all her great power tools.”
When Irwin Drug owner Chad Jungert heard about Hailey’s project, he was quick to offer his outer wall for a hanging space.
“I also want to thank Chad for allowing the Little Free Library to be on his building. It’s a great, accessible, visible space,” Hailey says.
She added cameras around the area to aid in halting vandalism.
Hailey filled her library with books from thrift stores, yard sales and her own home.
“My mom and older sister were both English majors—we have a lot of books. A lot,” she says.
The selection includes classics, popular fiction, nonfiction, young adult and children’s books. People are invited to take books and leave a book for someone else.
“I want there to be something for anyone who stops by,” Hailey says.
As for her own reading tastes, well, she said, it may be a bit surprising.
Ironically, Hailey is not a big reader.
“I did not like the accelerated reading program in elementary school where you had to read and take tests constantly,” she says. “It made me dislike reading.”
Despite her opinion of reading, Hailey says she understands its importance.
“My dad reads the newspaper every single day,” she says. “My mom read to my sister and me all the time. I like the idea of people having a book option when the library isn’t open, or they don’t have money to purchase one.”
And, she says she does have a few favorites of her own.
These include “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “The Hunger Games” and John Green books such as “The Fault in Our Stars.”
“When I am not forced to read—quantity over quality—I enjoy it more,” she says.
Hailey lives in Nampa and attends the College of Western Idaho, where she is studying business. When she was home in Grangeville for Christmas break, she added a few books to the library.
“It makes me happy to see people use it,” Hailey says. “A lot of people tell me how much they enjoy it, and that makes me feel good.”