A local teenager hopes to get more books into the hands of residents after creating three public book exchange sites in Columbus.

Ethan Eavey, 15, helped establish three Free Little Libraries as part of his Eagle Scout service project with Boy Scout Troop 555.

The Free Little Libraries allow anyone to select a book from the free-standing box with the option of either returning or keeping the book if they wish, Eavey said. The free books also can be picked up or dropped off for others to read anytime, he said.

Two of the libraries are at First United Methodist Church in Columbus, while a third is set up at the Lincoln-Central Family Neighborhood Center, Eavey said.

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Eavey, a sophomore at Culver Military Academy who had previously attended Columbus North High School, came up with the idea after learning about it from Dave Watts, a First United Methodist Church member who has a Free Little Library outside his Columbus home.

Eavey worked with Watts and Bill Ehrensberger, who donated the use of his workshop to construct the library boxes.

The concept of a Free Little Library started in 2009 when Todd Bol constructed a library outside his home in Hudson, Wisconsin, to honor his mother, according to the Little Free Library website. In 2017, the non-profit organization said 60,000 Little Free Libraries had been established in all 50 states and more than 80 countries worldwide.

Eavey’s mother, Lori, encouraged people to drop off any books they might want to share for others to enjoy.

“As people learn about it and if they have a book, they can contribute it to the library,” she said.

First United Methodist Church members are collecting books for all ages to keep their Free Little Libraries stocked.

Church members immediately supported the project after being approached about placing the libraries on church property, said the Rev. Howard Boles, the church’s senior pastor.

“Both of them are getting used pretty well,” Boles said. “I’m glad it worked out.”

The Little Free Library at the Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center will be utilized more once word about its availability gets out, said Diane Doup, community outreach coordinator with the organization.

“We’re so grateful for all the parties that made this happen,” Doup said.

Eavey spent 40 hours on the project and had the help of 23 other volunteers. He urged other Boy Scouts to consider an Eagle Scout project that has personal importance to them and one that they are passionate about.

Free Little Library locations in Columbus

First United Methodist Church, 618 Eighth St., one library is located on Eighth Street, while a second has been constructed on Lafayette Street.

Lincoln-Central Family Neighborhood Center, 1039 Sycamore St., the little library is located at 11th and Sycamore streets.

A library has also been established at 1922 Keller Ave.

More information

Details on Free Little Libraries, including a map of where you can find locations, can be found at the non-profit organization’s website at littlefreelibrary.org.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com