A Ridgeway Eagle Scout’s project from five years ago continues to contribute to people across the region.
In 2015, Zachary Margrave made and set up five Little Free Libraries – at the Smith River Sports Complex, Jack Dalton Park, Fieldale Park, Dick and Willie Trail near Doyle Street and at the Philpott Marina.
Now, in conjunction with Martinsville Literary Club, a sixth one has been installed at the Dick and Willie Trailhead on Spruce Street.
Little Free Library, on the web at littlefreelibrary.org, is a non-profit organization that fosters neighborhood book exchanges around the world with small wooden boxes into which people can take and leave books to share, in public places. The book depositories registered through LFL are labeled with plaques with their identification numbers and marked on a map on the LFL website.
Little Free Library in this region has been a family effort that has kept up through the years.
Zachary Margrave’s mother, Melody Margrave, maintains the Facebook page for “Little Free Libraries of MHC,” and he and his father, Richard Margrave, have refurbished or repaired the sites as needed.
The family checks each one at least once a month to be sure it is stocked with books. Roger Adams of the county recreation department also helps keep them stocked, they said.
In the spring, when the Martinsville Literary Club wanted to do something to benefit the community, it came on board as a sponsor of a sixth Little Free Library that Richard Margrave built and installed at the new Dick and Willie trailhead at 1900 Spruce St.
The book club keeps that Little Free Library stocked, especially with books the club members had read for their meetings.
Any book donated by members of the book club is marked with a sticker that reads “Take a book, read it, return it or share with a friend. Our Mission is to inspire a love of reading, build community, and spark creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges.”
The book club registered the latest book depository with the LFL organization. For a one-time fee of about $50, the depository is listed on the LFL locator map, and it received a registration number-- No. 98171.
The city’s recreation department gave permission for the box to be located there, said Sue Rosser of the book club. Most of the area’s other LFLs are on county property under permission of the Henry County Parks & Recreation department.
Zachary Margrave said he chose the idea of LFL as his Eagle Scout project because “it was something different, more interesting than building a bench or picnic table like everyone usually does. I like reading. It seemed appropriate.”
It became more appropriate for him than he may have realized five years ago: Now Margrave, a recent graduate of Roanoke College, works for the Collinsville Library.
He learned woodworking from his father and his grandfather, the late Sam “Pete” Crawley. Now Crawley’s woodworking tools are in the Margraves’ basement.
Each of these three generations created a LFL with a design unique to the area where it’s placed. The one at the sports complex is styled and painted to match the buildings at the sports complex, and the one at the marina resembles a lighthouse.
Inspired by the idea, neighbor Tonie McMillan made one for outside Starling Avenue Baptist Church, Melody Margrave said. It features a painting of a longtime Starling Avenue pastor, the late David Adkins.
Zachary Margrave said he and his father have been maintaining the LFLs “more out of necessity. If we didn’t, they would have been torn down years ago.”
“Being out in the weather is rough on them,” Richard Margrave said. “The door is usually the casualty.”
Sometimes people are rough on them, too: On a regular basis, the Musgraves discover the LFL in Fieldale to be filled with gravel.
Now the Fieldale LFL is due for a major overhaul, because it was submerged in the flooding that happened in the area in May.
When the pandemic lockdown initially hit the area, the books were removed, and the LFLs were closed by order of the county parks and recreation department.
Since they’ve been opened back up, they have been better stocked than usual, the Margraves said, attributing that to people clearing out their houses while at home during lockdown.
“In an ideal world, they’d be self-sustaining,” Zachary Margrave said.
Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.
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