“Little Libraries” First-Year Seminar project spreads love of reading

First-year Petrels are sharing their love of reading through “Little Libraries,” small bookshelves installed across campus that anyone can take from or donate to.

The initiative is the culmination of a First-Year Seminar called “How Do We Recover from High School English?,” which helped new Petrels — many of them undecided about their major — bond over their favorite books and find community as they begin their academic journeys.

Installed in the Lupton Hall main entrance, the Cousins Center lobby, the Great Hall in Hearst, and the coffee shop in the Turner Lynch Campus Center, these small literary hubs are already stocked with books that Oglethorpe students enjoy. Part of the First-Year seminar included conducting a campus-wide survey that asked “What’s your favorite book?” The most popular responses helped inform which books should start out in the libraries.

Students stock a little library with books

First-year students stock a little library with books

From the hugely-popular “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” to literary classics like “Fahrenheit 451,” these Little Libraries have a wide range of books for anyone to enjoy.

The little libraries were constructed with help from Assistant Professor of Scenic Design and Technical Theatre Jonathon Nooner, who welcomed the first-year Petrels to the university’s scene shop. Students learned to work with tools and collaborated to produce four libraries in total.

Most importantly, however, the first-year seminar helped students bond with one another. In addition to the little library project, students took field trips to local libraries and spent class time discussing their favorite books. Oglethorpe University’s library director Eli Arnold ’06 even talked with the class about libraries.

“I think students so often stop enjoying reading because classes become increasingly focused on test-taking and ‘right answers,'” says Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Dr. Anna Ziering, the professor who led this unique seminar. “The goal was to reinvigorate a passion for pleasure reading both within our class and in the Oglethorpe community overall, and to help students feel connected to Oglethorpe through this service project.”

Now, going in to their second semester, these students already feel a connection to one another and to the broader campus community.

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