ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (July 18, 2016) -- To promote literacy and the love of reading, a military child recently became the first resident in Havre de Grace, Maryland to build a Little Free Library for the waterfront city just north of Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Aberdeen Proving Ground youth Isabella Lugo Frasqueri, 7, the daughter of Maj. Alexmi E. Lugo with the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, and Melissa Frasqueri, said she wanted to set up a Little Free Library book exchange in Millard Tydings Memorial Park, just minutes north of the Maryland Army installation, to promote reading in the community.
"I wanted people to be able to read books even if they didn't have money," she said. "And I wanted them to love books just as much as I do."
The Little Free Library, or LFL, is a nonprofit organization with the official motto of "Take a Book, Return a Book." Free books are housed in small containers, usually about the size of a doll house that can be purchased from the LFL website, or built by a volunteer. Earlier this year, the first Little Free Library furnished by the city was placed near the newly renovated Havre de Grace Public
Erika Quesenbery Sturgill, Havre de Grace Grants and Economic Development coordinator, said Mayor William T. "Bill" Martin and city council unanimously supported the effort to register for and begin a LFL program in Havre de Grace. It is the first chartered LFL program
in Harford County.
"The books are for the community, for visitors, for children, teens and adults," Quesenbery Sturgill said.
Isabella Lugo Frasqueri said she discussed becoming a LFL steward with her parents, and they agreed to support her decision to build and maintain the library if she got permission from the mayor and the city council.
Her mother helped her set up a presentation for the mayor and city council in April. Before the meeting, she scouted a few locations and drew a sketch of what the proposed library would look like.
"He [Mayor Martin] was really nice and very receptive," Melissa Frasqueri said. "The whole administration has gone above and beyond in this whole process."
After her plans were approved and a location was selected, Isabella Lugo Frasqueri designed, built and decorated her library with the help of her father who supplied leftover materials from home projects. Upon completion, it was installed in the park by the Havre de Grace Department of Public Works.
The library was unveiled to the community during a ceremony officiated by Martin on June 22. The mayor helped Isabella Lugo Frasqueri ceremoniously put the first collection of books in the new library. Teachers and the principal of Havre de Grace Elementary School, which the APG youth attends, were also present at the unveiling.
The family maintains the library, replenishing it with donations from the community and books purchased from garage sales.
Lugo, said he is "very proud" of his daughter.
"I am proud that she likes to read and I am proud that she likes to get involved," he said. "She has a great heart."
This article originally appeared in the July 14, 2016 issue of the APG News, Aberdeen Proving Ground's weekly newspaper.