The new Little Free Libraries – wooden and Plexiglas boxes filled with books – have been placed at four city parks where children congregate over the summer, as part of Augusta Literacy for ME team efforts to promote and improve literacy.

The idea of the project is to encourage children and their parents to read by making books easily available to them for free. Users are asked, in general, to take a book and leave a book, though the unstaffed libraries will work on the honor system.

“There’s no signing out. You just take a book and leave a book,” said Theresa Violette, Title I director for Augusta Schools and a member of Augusta Literacy for ME, a team of educators, parents, child development experts and others focused on promoting literacy. “The whole idea is to share literature.”

The red, slightly-larger-than-a-breadbox Little Free Libraries are at Buker Community Center on Armory Street, McCall’s Park on Eastern Avenue, Williams Park on Bangor Street and Calumet Park on Northern Avenue.

“We wanted them to be where kids and adults congregate. We just want them to be where they are easily accessible to everyone,” Violette said, “good locations where they are visible and accessible in the summertime, when they’ll be utilized.”

The small libraries were built at no charge by Dakota Douglas, who will be a senior at Cony High School this school year.

Douglas said he heard the literacy team was looking for someone to build the libraries – his mother, Karen, is a member of the group – so he volunteered to do it as an Eagle Scout project.

“I’ve always been into building things with my hands,” Douglas said.

“I heard it was a project that needed to be done, so I jumped on it. I knew it was something Literacy for ME wanted to do for the community and I thought it was a good idea. They were looking for someone to do it cheap, and I figured I could do it.”

Better than doing it cheaply – he did it for free.

Douglas met with store managers at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Hammond Lumber, each of which donated materials for the project.

He estimated it took him about a month to build the four mini-libraries.

Douglas, active with the Boy Scouts and Venture Crew, not only built them, but as part of the Eagle Scout requirements he also instructed family and troop members about how to build them, to show leadership in the Scout project.

Violette said the Little Free Libraries are a part of other efforts to foster literacy in the city.

Those other efforts have included two pre-school family events featuring literacy and learning-related games and activities at Gilbert and Farrington elementary schools earlier this year.

This fall the group hopes to distribute posters created by local students under the direction of art teacher Helene Farrar, with a theme of “wild about books,” in local doctors’ offices.

Violette said the posters were designed so children can stand in front of them and have their photographs taken, and it will appear as if they are part of the posters.

And teacher Charles Wheeler is working on using a poem the group wrote to create a pro-literacy song they hope to have played locally on the radio.

Violette said the literacy-focused group began meeting in the 2012-13 school year “to do what we can do to provide direction and support to improve literacy achievement through adulthood.”

Earlier this week, team members were still working to fill the tiny libraries with books. By Thursday, only the McCall’s small library had books in it, though Violette said the rest should have books within a few days.

The Little Free Libraries at the three city parks with pools will be available during the hours the pools are open, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

The one at Buker Community Center will be open when the center is open, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Keith Edwards can be reached at 621-5647 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj