RAPID CITY, S.D. (Aug. 19, 2013) - A Rapid City neighborhood park has become a little smarter this summer thanks to a community service project by a group of South Dakota School of Mines & Technology students.
Mines student volunteers threw their sweat equity into building not the next mechanical engineering wonder of the world but a Little Free Library for use by children and adults alike at Kiwanis-Mary Hall Park.
The Little Free Library is a global initiative to help promote literacy. Volunteers construct a small library, which serves as a depository for a public book swap. Essentially a decorative box, the libraries are generally about 21-inches wide by 23-inches tall and are monitored by a variety of community organizations or other identified stewards. The mission is to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges.
Top photo: School of Mines students
Katharine Ross and
Gina Rossi built the Mary Hall Park Little Free Library from scratch.
Bottom photo: Gina Rossi paints on the finishing touches to the Little Free Library at Kiwanis-Mary Hall Park.
"There are hundreds of these libraries all over the world, but right now there's a huge gap in the Midwest. We wanted to help fix that," said Mines student Gina Rossi, a sophomore civil and environmental engineering major from Pueblo, Colo. Rossi is president of Circle K International, the university-level affiliate of Kiwanis International, which maintains the Mary Hall Park at 3220 W. South St. on the west side of town.
"We felt like it would have a really positive impact," Rossi said. "We are hoping to increase literacy and access to books for low-income families who can't afford to buy new books otherwise. We are also hoping to encourage a love of reading for anyone who decides they want to use the library."
A dozen Mines students built the library from scratch with $100. Anyone is free to take a book. In return, they are asked to bring that book back or exchange it for another when they're done. With books coming from donations by community members the library will be self-sustainable with only occasional maintenance.
The Downtown Kiwanis and Westside Kiwanis clubs are helping to supply books and keep an eye out on the library in the future, said Kiwanis member Tom Allen.
"We have had a number of books left and several taken. Currently the stock tends to lean towards older kids and some adults. The little kid books seem to disappear rapidly," Allen said.
The Little Free Library just one example of what is becoming a greater community service initiative by the School of Mines. On Sunday, Aug. 25, 400 incoming freshmen will gather to clean up the hillside behind the campus and the neighborhood around it, as well as volunteer at Feeding South Dakota.
"These students are living our values of service to the community and we are proud of them," said President Heather Wilson.
In addition to Rossi, other Mines students who helped build the Little Free Library were Katharine Ross, Rashyll Leonard, Jordan Miller, Zach Heher, Nick Kelly, Zach Pierson, Kathleen Ryan, Alec Knox, Spencer Ferguson and Anne Christensen.
Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls more than 2,400 students from 32 countries, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The average starting salary for 2012 graduates was $62,696 with a 98 percent placement rate. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu, on facebook at www.facebook.com/sdsmt and on Twitter https://twitter.com/sdsmt.