Emily Milton, Ava Cuccia, Lola Anderson and Julia Fritsch have been best friends and reading buddies since kindergarten. Their favorite books range from “The Martian” by Andy Weir to “any John Green book,” according to Emily.“I can’t choose just one book,” Lola added.
In 2008, these bookworms discovered that they shared another passion: Girl Scouts.
Bonded through friendship and a love of reading, the now seventh- and eighth-graders at Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School in Riverhead began brainstorming ideas to earn their Girl Scout Silver Award, the highest honor that can be earned by cadettes, or those Girls Scouts who are in grades six through eight. The award offers cadettes the opportunity to do “big things and make [their] community better in the process,” according to girlscouts.org.
Emily, who lives in Riverhead, and Ava, Lola and Julia, who call Hampton Bays home, combined their love of the Girl Scouts and reading to create a Little Free Library that was installed last week on the East Quogue Village Green.
“They purchased a kit off of the website [littlefreelibrary.org] and assembled it on their own,” said Kim Milton, Emily’s mother and co-leader of the Girl Scout Troop 705 of Southampton.
“There’s no library in East Quogue,” Ava explained. “We wanted to do something that would promote reading in our community.”
“Having something that we can all do together is pretty cool,” Emily said.
The small library, which resembles a mailbox, was installed at the entrance to the Village Green on September 27 and is stocked with books of all kinds: fiction, non-fiction, picture books and even novels geared toward adults.
“Their mission is to put out a variety of different types of books,” Ms. Milton said.
Southampton Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera said town officials, who oversee the hamlet’s main park and honored the four young women at last week’s Town Board meeting for their effort, were “thrilled” to welcome the library.
“It’s to encourage reading and promote access,” Ms. Scalera said. “The [goal] is to be able to pick up a book and have a revolving access to everyone to be able to expand their opportunities to read.”
East Quogue’s Little Free Library, which operates on the honor system—meaning those who take a book are expected to leave another in its stead—is one of several such libraries scattered across the town. The idea is to “take a book, leave a book,” Ms. Milton said.
“The more books we can get out into the community, especially children’s books, it’s just better for everyone,” said Quogue Library Director Lana Theiling. Her library plans to donate books in the future to the initiative.
The town’s newest Little Library will be maintained by the East Quogue Beautification Committee and the four friends will help restock it on a rotating schedule. They added that the Hampton Bays Public Library, which recently added its own Little Free Library, has also donated books and will continue to do so.
“We’re really excited about it,” Ms. Scalera said. “It’s a great thing.”