OCEAN CITY – The construction of “little libraries” is expected to benefit an uptown community.
Last summer, Caine Woods Community Association resident Finian Dudley,16, began an effort to construct “little libraries” for his Eagle Scout service project. With the boxes now installed at three public parks, he said he is hoping those in his neighborhood can benefit.
“It’s about sharing information,” he said.
A current “Life Scout” with Ocean City Troop 2173, Dudley began the process of earning his Eagle rank last July. Meeting with Delmarva Council Eagle Counselor Thomas Smith, he began what would be a months-long process of meeting project requirements.
Dudley said the idea of constructing “little libraries” in his neighborhood was inspired by community member Billie Chambers. As an avid walker and reader, Chambers expressed interest in having a library box where she and her friends could pick up books along their walking route.
“I wasn’t really thinking for myself, but I wanted to build these for Ms. Billie because I knew her and her friends would use it,” he explained. “I also know a lot of people in my neighborhood really like reading.”
To that end, Dudley began writing a project proposal to install library boxes at Gorman Park, North Surf Park and Fiesta Park. His plan was then presented to his Eagle counselor, Town of Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department, and the Caine Woods Community Association board.
“Most people in the troop who did a project similar to mine didn’t have to go through a board or neighborhood council,” he said. “I was one of the few that had to.”
Eileen Dudley, Dudley’s mom and scoutmaster, said her son had to meet certain requirements to install the library boxes. As the boxes were placed on public property, they had to have specific materials and paint colors and meet ADA requirements.
“He also had to make sure the products he used could withstand 10 years,” she said.
Utilizing monetary and in-kind donations – including specialty paints from McCormick Paints in Fenwick Island and composite lumber from The Adkins Company in Berlin – Dudley began constructing the library boxes alongside his father and project coach, Ed Dudley. He said they spent days cutting, sanding, assembling and painting.
“When we had the materials and paints, we started working right away,” he said. “We had to plan how we were going to build and plant our boxes.”
In October, posts were cemented at the three parks. Once set, the library boxes were installed and filled with books. While Dudley has been tasked with maintaining the libraries, he said his project has turned into a community endeavor, as Chambers and her group of friends have volunteered to keep the boxes filled with books.
“A lot of people in the neighborhood were willing to help us maintain it,” he said.
In an interview this week, Association President Mike Quade praised Dudley for taking the time to bring a worthwhile project to Caine Woods. He said community members can now take and leave books when they visit any of the library boxes.
“He’s a great young man who has a great future,” he said. “He has a lot of ambition and drive that’s hard to find in the younger generation anymore. I’m so proud of him.”
On Jan. 24, a dedication ceremony was held to present the “little libraries” to the Caine Woods Community Association board. But Dudley’s efforts don’t end there. He continues to produce a 30-plus page project packet that will be presented to the Boy Scouts of America Eagle Board of Review, the final step to achieving the highest rank in scouting.